Richard Sambrook who is a new media head honcho at the BBC has long been somewhat of an expert in user generated content and citizien journalism in the media context. I often hear intelligent and succint quotes from him in the international media world. So I was happy to see him speak at the WAN conference.

Sambrook identified, four different types of UGC content:

1. Eye witness contributions… where readers email photos or eye-witness accounts of what they have seen.

2. Integration of audience and public opinion with journalism… There is nothing new in this, it’s been happening for decades with radio & TV phone-ins and chat shows. This could typically also combine blogging comment with articles, but it is always very clear which content comes from the journalist and which is from the user.

3. News as broken on the general web by bloggers. This would be stories bloggers typically break on the web that mainstream media to follows up on. For example the Dan Rather case and military blogs in Iraq that BBC journalists have followed story scoops on.

4. Networked journalism According to Sanbrook, this has most potential, but there has been the least progress on. The idea here is that media can tap into the collective expertise of the public to help report on a story, similar to recent projects by Jay Rosen of NYU.

I’d like to add a fifth:

5. Media facilitated User generated content: This is where a media company becomes a facilitator in hosting this content, ie it provides blog or aggregating platforms, for users to write on much like Google provides blogger.com. There is no integration with journalism, but the idea here is the media company is about capturing audience.

Sambrook says we are only at the very beginning of this digital journey and its going to take us to an unpredictable place in the next few years. Great.

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