Headline »

chat apps ii

Chat apps: three tips for making them work for a news audience

| July 20, 2016 – 1:01 pm | 539 views

The intimacy of Telegram, WeChat and WhatsApp has helped make these chat apps, and others like them, the next frontier for news organisations that are looking to reach new audiences – but with the number of platforms available, coming up …

Read the full story »

Browse categories

Event news

Latest news from news:rewired, including programme updates and ticketing information

Speakers' posts

Blog posts from our speakers


News and tips on mobile, interactive graphics and features and what's next for journalists and publishers online


Posts on the benefits and problems of crowdsourcing, collaborating with other media and your users, and running user-driven projects

Making money

Real-life examples of who's doing it online and how

Event news »

8 tips for sourcing eyewitness media from social networks

| July 21, 2016 – 2:54 pm | 241 views

eyewitness ii

Being an eyewitness to a news event and posting photos and information from the scene on social media can place you at the receiving end of thousands of requests from the media.

But the closing panel at newsrewired in London yesterday (20 July) had high hopes that the way newsrooms source user-generated content (UCG) from social media could soon look very different.

The panellists highlighted some possibilities for publishers to move from a pack mentality of social newsgathering to a more ethical one.

For example, news agencies could reach an understanding whereby if one of them is granted permission to use certain eyewitness media, that permission would extend to all news agencies. And social media platforms themselves could develop a way for eyewitnesses to issue “blanket permissions” to journalists, by detecting the material posted could be of interest to news outlets and making it easier for sources to respond to requests about their footage being used.

However, for the time being, the processes for sourcing eyewitness media are still determined individually by newsrooms, and editors and journalists say coming up with best practices is essential for preserving trust and protecting sources.

Here are some of the standards that Sky News, CNN International, Reuters and Storyful use when a story breaks on social media.

1. Be human. Panellists encouraged journalists to remember that eyewitnesses are often in frightening situations that they may know less about than those in the newsroom. Approaching potential sources from a personal social media account and attempting to move conversations to private channels can help journalists and eyewitnesses build trust and communicate more securely.

“It’s okay to be a real person and ask people informally, because you are talking to someone on a human level and this helps with verification as well,” said George Sargent, social media producer at Reuters.

2. Make sure eyewitnesses are safe — and keep them that way. Rachel Rodriguez, social media producer at CNN International, said the first question CNN journalists ask on social media is whether or not eyewitnesses are safe. However, concern about a source’s safety shouldn’t cease after that initial question. Asking for specific locations or contact details publicly can endanger those in hostile environments, as it can inadvertently encourage them to go out and collect more footage.

“The eyewitnesses you’re talking to aren’t professional journalists,” Rodriguez said. “You can’t talk to them the same way you talk to one of your correspondents.”

Sargent added that coming up with standards for ongoing news events can help ensure that publishers aren’t encouraging eyewitnesses to take unnecessary risks. For example, Reuters came up with policies for incorporating footage of the Ebola outbreak in their reporting: if it appeared filmmakers had endangered themselves while collecting material, by shooting too closely to those infected, Reuters would reject the footage.

The panellists also highlighted that it is journalists’ responsibility to consider whether calling a source or encouraging them to send lengthy material, such as video files, might drain precious battery power during a natural disaster and put the eyewitness at risk.

3. Verify eyewitness media by talking to your sources. Don’t just harvest permissions. Eoghan Sweeney, journalist at Storyful, said it is important to engage in conversations in order to ensure people actually own the photos and videos they’ve shared. 

Getting additional information from a source via a phone call or email not only helps verify content, but makes an eyewitness feel more valued and can lead to additional material being sourced. Hazel Baker, digital news editor at Sky News, said that recording phone calls with eyewitnesses can lead to better television packages as well as better relationships with the audience.

4. Establish workflows. When a news story breaks, it’s important to know whose responsibility it is to source eyewitness media. Duplicate requests from the same organisation look sloppy and can generate backlash on social platforms. And multiple requests made after a source has already refused to give permission can qualify as harassment.

5. Ask permission and explain how the footage will be used. Using eyewitness media without permission is a violation of copyright. Obtaining permission but failing to explain how the footage will be used can also get journalists into trouble. This is especially important for news agencies such as Reuters and Storyful, whose content appears in newspapers and television stations around the world. Getting permission also entails clarifying how far that permission extends: if a source agrees for one of their videos or images to be used, it does not mean journalists can automatically use all the content created by that person.

“Don’t assume blanket clearance,” said Sweeney. “Make sure you continue the conversation until you’re sure of that.”

6. Give credit — almost always. Rodriguez said the exception to this is when sources’ safety may be compromised if their identity is provided. Baker explained that at Sky News, this also extends to paying for exceptional footage — and, at a minimum, never making a source feel out of place for asking about compensation. 

“We just have to show them how valuable we find their content,” Baker added.

7. Train your journalists. In breaking news scenarios, anyone in the newsroom might have to engage in social media newsgathering. Rodriguez said CNN International trains almost all its journalists in how to approach eyewitnesses for information and user-generated content. For those working regularly in social newsgathering, having support after viewing traumatic footage or after running into trouble/ facing backlash on social channels is also essential.

8. Close the loop and follow up. Providing sources with links to stories in which their content has been used, when possible, and remembering to say ‘thank you’ can lead to future collaborations – and it is also the ethical thing to do. On social media, journalists are under public scrutiny, so showing their audiences and communities that news organisations can be trusted to engage compassionately and ethically with sources is crucial for the integrity of their organisations and the industry itself. 

How editorial analytics can be used effectively in the newsroom

| July 20, 2016 – 5:10 pm | 878 views
editorial analytics live

Analytics can give journalists instant feedback on their work – but what are the numbers telling you about your wider editorial strategy?
Newsrooms can use metrics beyond simply determining whether or not an individual story is …

Why The Times is betting on an editions-based digital strategy

| July 20, 2016 – 4:53 pm | 291 views
Pat Long ii

Pat Long, head of news development at The Times and Sunday Times, today outlined the new approach his newspapers were taking to online news by following a digital editions strategy.
Rather than holding onto a traditional approach …

As it happened: working ethically with eyewitness media on social networks

| July 20, 2016 – 4:48 pm | 221 views
eyewitness social media

As more organisations source – and rely on – eyewitnesses from social networks in breaking news situations, the pressure to be the first to publish a photo or video can result in journalists bombarding people …

Five trends worth watching in mobile-first news

| July 20, 2016 – 4:24 pm | 2,194 views
Nic newman

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recently released three reports on trends in news consumption, and research associate Nic Newman says the principal takeaway is that journalism is “a much more complicated world” than it used …

As it happened: how to make Facebook Live work for you

| July 20, 2016 – 4:13 pm | 357 views

In this practical workshop, Karla Geci, from Facebook’s strategic partnerships division, shared key insights and advice about how journalists can use Facebook Live to produce engaging livestreams and reach a wider audience.

Insider tips for higher quality data journalism

| July 20, 2016 – 3:20 pm | 256 views
Helena Bengtsson

Data journalism has been a media buzzword for a while. Despite the fact, a lot of tasks are computerised, it remains a difficult discipline for reporters to master.
At the news:rewired conference, today in London, Helena Bengtsson, …

As it happened: covering the refugee crisis in the age of social media rumours and viral stories

| July 20, 2016 – 3:10 pm | 151 views
Rossalyn Warren live

To cover the complex issue of the refugee crisis, newsrooms need a mixture of on the ground reporting and creative approaches on social media.
In this session of the news:rewired conference, BuzzFeed reporter Rossalyn Warren explained …

Five top tips for a successful, monetised, investigative podcast

| July 20, 2016 – 2:56 pm | 197 views
Maeve McClenaghan (right)

The success of Serial – and the mobile-friendly nature of podcasts – has put the medium back on the map for many media organisations. During a session at the news:rewired conference, today in London, freelance investigative journalist Maeve …

As it happened: why The Times is betting on an editions-based digital strategy

| July 20, 2016 – 2:50 pm | 467 views
Pat Long

In this session of the news:rewired conference, Pat Long, head of news development, The Times and The Sunday Times, explained the title’s new digital publishing model and how that works in practice in the 24/7 breaking news environment the …

As it happened: how to use metrics in the newsroom efficiently

| July 20, 2016 – 2:04 pm | 167 views
editorial analytics live

Analytics can give journalists instant feedback on their work – but what are the numbers really telling you about your larger editorial strategy, and how can newsrooms use metrics beyond determining whether a story has …