Conference news
Posted: October 19, 2007 06:05 PM
"I Know You're Never Going To Post This, But..."

Lila King, of, discusses I-Report. (Photo by Aaron Roberts)

There's no shortage of user-generated content available online. But how can we integrate all of this content into news Web sites?

The examples are many:

• A clip of U.S. Senator George Allen's racially derogatory comment on YouTube.
• Animal rights organizations and Internet users breaking the story on poisoned pet food from China.

Integrating User-Generated Content, moderated by Dean Wright of Reuters, introduced Linda Strean of; Lila King of; and Patrick Cooper of USA TODAY as representives from organizations that face issues trying to deal with an increasing amount of user-generated content.

"Our job is to not only provide news that's straight, unbiased. . .we also have a responsibility to showcase the conversations our world is having," said Wright.

Linda Strean works with, a site that provides parents with information on local schools. This information includes government data, test scores, and ethnic breakdowns of schools, explained Strean.

Lila King leads a participation group at Her job is to engage the audience in the storyelling process. The biggest tool they use is I-Report, which invites users to send first-person stories, videos, and photos to CNN's editorial and news gathering groups. also uses pre-moderated story comments, user-generated content-driven blogs to integrate readers.

"Before you can integrate any user content, you have to get it first," said King. "That's the biggest challenge."

King said this could be as simple as turning on the comments option on story pages. has also been putting images sent in by users on its main page. "It's a chicken-and-egg problem," she pointed out. "You have to show something on the site prominently so that you can get more."

What kind of issues and events should be opened up to user comments? What types of stories would benefit from user-generated videos? These are two questions to keep in mind. uses user-generated content in weather, spot news (usually videos), and obituaries. King says user comments and videos related to the deaths of Jerry Falwell and Anna Nicole Smith, for example, were extremely revealing. "It's the sort of thing you're not going to get by making a thousand phone calls."

Patrick Cooper of USA TODAY practices "network journalism" to create conversations and communities that are valuable to organizations, readers, and journalists. Cooper asked us to look at what people are saying. Why are they saying it? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? He wants us to ask why people are they doing what they are doing in our communities. USA TODAY uses blogs, comments, and media sharing to establish connections and communities for readers and reporters.

The most interesting idea in this panel was the idea of getting stories out of user comments. Cooper used the example of the Radiohead album story on USA TODAY: the story evolved from a piece about the band's pay-what-you-want pricing scheme, to a piece called "Were Radiohead fans duped by the download?" because of user comments.

"In the spirit of 'user-generated content,' this should be turned to the reader -- which is you," directed Wright.

The floor was opened to questions for the three panelists, mainly about abuse reporting, different types of moderating systems, and dealing with false information submitted by users.

-- Carmen Cheung


I agree with Dean Wright.

I feel showcasing conversations from around the world is significant because it allows an individual to hear what everyone is concerned about. We as human beings should make it a priority to keep in touch with what is happening in our society and not allow ourselves to drift off. It's important to me as a student because knowing what is happening around the world allows me to become more aware of the situations. It gives me the chance to develop my own analytical thoughts as to how to think and act on the situation.

I strongly believe having generated video and online blogs allows a person to become more diverse and in touch with society. You get a chance to see how other people think and the way they craft their thoughts for the online medium. However, at times it's hard to distinguish between what is fact and what is opinion. The use of the online blog or other information submitted by users allows for more opinion, which can be controversial.

Eric T.
Quinnipiac Uiniversity

October 22, 2007 01:32 PM by Eric T. (Permalink)

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Back to 2007 conference page

8th Annual Conference and Awards Banquet, Oct. 17-19, Sheraton Centre, Toronto

Questions about membership, registration or sponsorship opportunities? E-mail Executive Director Lori Schwab.

Questions about conference lineup or volunteering? E-mail Conference Chair Ju-Don Roberts.

Oct. 19, 2007 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast Discussion Groups (Sponsored by AFP) 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Community/Convergence Workshop: The Cutting Edge of Online Data 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Content/Design Workshop: Finding Your Voice Online 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Business Workshop: Leading the 21st Century Newsroom 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.: General Session: Membership Meeting 10:45 a.m. - Education Members Meeting, Expanding ONA's educational offerings, Dominion Ballroom 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m: Keynote: Michael Oreskes, International Herald Tribune 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Lunch on Your Own (Box lunch sponosred by 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Community/Convergence Workshop: Broadcaster Strategies for the Web 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Content/Design Workshop: Integrating Multimedia in Storytelling 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Business Workshop: Legal Panel 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Community/Convergence Workshop: Revamping Your Curriculum for Online Journalism 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Content/Design Workshop: Integrating User-Generated Content 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Business Workshop: Advertising 2.0 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.: Coffee Break (Sponsored by Pluck) 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Journalism Next: Impact of Aggregators, Blogging and Social Networking on the Industry 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Reception sponsored by 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Awards banquet

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