Major Media Outlets Lend Ear to Masses

For years, blogging has been a new frontier for both news and gossip. While some blogs are generally quite good at providing users with new content, others have been known to do nothing more than regurgitate news happening elsewhere.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Whether or not it is held in the highest esteem, it seems some major media outlets around the world are warming up to user generated news.

These days, it seems that in order to acquire any form of success, it takes some help from the average internet user.

One of the oldest peer driven movements is the Open Source movement. All it takes is one person willing to start programming something and release the source code into the internet. From there, any programmer, whether it’s a computer science major or a hobbyist, can take the code and build onto it. To help with legal certainties, the GPL or the BSD licenses were created. It enabled people with no knowledge of law to get some form of legal certainties so they can keep coding whatever they want to code.

Since then, there was the rise of file-sharing which used peers’ bandwidth to distribute content throughout the world at no cost beyond the cost connecting to the internet. Later on, there was blogging which enabled anyone with (and shortly later, without) web hosting to publish anything from what they read elsewhere to what they ate to any news they had to offer. Since the beginning, the accuracy of blogging and even the need for blogging has been debated by many – even to this day.

There’s also the rise of the Creative Commons movement, where creators of content can give however much they want to the masses online. It can be as little as a sample of their work to full works for free. Most of these licenses will even give users permission to remix, alter or redistribute, to name a few possibilities. One of the most well known and debated example is Wikipedia. Some contend that because anyone can edit Wikipedia, it is therefore not accurate, while others argue that because anyone can edit it, many minds around the world can ensure its accuracy.

YouTube has become very well known for users sharing content. Whether or not a work is copyrighted, many works appear on the video sharing site. Many indicators point to YouTube as being a major success story which includes Google buying 1.65 billion in YouTube stock. Google in itself depends on millions of third party web designers to fill its database with content so it has something to search. Without third party content, where would Google be?

With all of this happening, it seems that major media outlets are starting to warm up to the idea of user generated content. The first noteworthy broadcaster to announce such a concept is the BBC. On November 27, Kevin Bakhurst commented on the new feature, “Your News will make use of the huge range of material being sent to the BBC by the public, some of which has already provided real news gathering value.

“Your News will reflect the stories catching our audience’s eye and talk to them directly about the issues they feel really matter.”

The next major network to adopt such a model is the CBC. According to the CBC’s website on November 30th, “CBC will redefine its relationship with its audience,” said Tony Burman, editor-in-chief of CBC News.

“We want to further the local voice that we already hear on our local programs.”

CNN also has a section where users can report their own news stories.

With three major outlets starting peer based programs, one may wonder if other media outlets will follow suit or simply sit on the sidelines and wait to see how well things turn out.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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