The “UGC” bandwagon

Firstly, let me say again that I loathe the term “user-generated content” in describing the personal media revolution that’s taking place all around us. UGC is a pigeonhole that mass media can understand and accept, because it neatly separates the professional from the amateur. However, it gets everything wrong about personal media in the process. It isn’t just “free content” that can be used and exploited by the mainstream to drive page views.

One of my Heatonisms is that “mediated people make their own media,” and this is powerful beyond belief. A lot of people believe that one of the greatest uses of HDTV downstream will be for playing videos created by people in-the-home. It is this energy — this desire to create our own — that opens the door for professional media companies to get involved. It isn’t about pro versus amateur or conflicts about citizen journalism; this is about money and business opportunities. Who better to equip local people that those in the community who already produce quality video?

I’ve used Gordon Borrell’s wonderful analogy many times here: “the deer now have guns.” And what do you do when the deer have guns? You get into the ammunition business. Using citizen media contributions to enhance your web position is a useful strategy, but it isn’t the ammunition business. That would be enabling the people who make the contributions by introducing them to each other, providing classes, making raw news video available, and fairly compensating them for work of theirs that we use.

This isn’t the case with the latest round of media companies jumping on the bandwagon. CNN Exchange launched this week. ABC News Now launched a creative program last week that enables people to comment on the top news and entertainment stories. Cory Bergman at Lost Remote has a nice summary today of these efforts.

Of course, the remarkable traffic of YouTube is what’s driving all of this. Media companies are rushing to get in on the action, and I think it’s great. I just believe that at the local level, there are business opportunities in this space that fall outside efforts to boost page views and video views, and that local companies should be looking here.

Comments

  1. That would be enabling the people who make the contributions by introducing them to each other, providing classes, making raw news video available, and fairly compensating them for work of theirs that we use.

    That is *so* not going to happen with any of the big media companies. It probably won’t even happen if this idea gets picked up by affiliates What affiliates *might* do is go into community colleges and state universities to draft students who may never thought of doing this sort of thing…

    would this be a good thing or a bad thing? IMO, not so good. The idea then would be that of a local affiliate developing stringers via the college/university, and not a case of promoting citizen contributions.

  2. Hard to argue with you, Tish, except that WKRN is headed down this path. The exception, I guess.

  3. UGC sort of gives you a picture of folks skulking around, scratching themeslves, with bizarre tics that only go away when stimulated by the clicking sound of keyboard or camera.

    I am infavor of ICE aka
    indivdual created expression, which we can leverage into iceman, icewoman, iceburg,(as a place where we meet to show how icy we are.

    tshirts hats bags totes, eggs, etc.
    Now that the compensation cat has leaped out of the bag, it will be some time, but as sure as I am writing this, media companies will come around with checkbook in hand.

    The first folks who host ICE as a middleman for creators and , and split the proceeds with them, while offering media companies a place to find this stuff will make good money.

    But it will never happen with “free” sites like YouTube or CNet webshots.

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