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BBC, Yahoo! Reuters getting into social news?

an image of the BBC, Reuters and Yahoo! logosDespite what the neigh-sayers are putting about, ‘blogging is taking its toll on news coverage.

Gone are the days of a 6 o’clock exclusive; this is the time when scoops are claimed in back-bedrooms after an internet conversation with drunken colleague tumbling out of a board meeting in different time zone, and from a bus window seat in the middle of a war-torn province with a mobile phone.

Sensing this colossal shift in news coverage and consumption, big players like the BBC, Yahoo! and Reuters are currently moving to make the most of these new on-the-scene citizen reporters:

BBC News 24 has launched a news programme based entirely on user-generated material.

Your News, which began a pilot run on Saturday, will feature stories, features and video proving most popular with viewers on TV and the internet.”

While the main-stay of the ‘blogging community is still largely dominated by what seems to be armies of Japanese teenage girls, there are those at the top with a strong voice, a good word and two healthy ears that are bringing the news and providing an earthy commentary which is making news coverage a participatory, social experience where anyone can have their say:

“BBC News website receives around 10,000 emails a day with story suggestions, comments and pictures from the public.”

Not to be out-done, Yahoo! and Reuters are close behind the BBC:

“Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.”

To me, this is is yet another sign of the inevitable convergence point in news coverage, ‘blogging, social commentary and a genuine democratic oportunity for the public to have a voice.

In terms of future developments in news coverage and dissemination, there is no other route forward. People not only want to read the news, they also want to share and even participate in the news.

And for the first time, the public are going to get their chance to participate in the news coverage:

“The project is among the most ambitious efforts in what has become known as citizen journalism, attempts by bloggers, start-up local news sites and by global news organizations like CNN and the BBC to see if readers can also become reporters.”

As a perfect example of how immediate coverage and commentary can take place before even the first sheet of paper has hit the printing press, or even before internet journalists have the time to sip their first coffee of the day:

“Camera phone videos are increasingly making news themselves. Michael Richards, the actor who played Kramer on “Seinfeld,” was recorded last month responding to hecklers in a nightclub with racially charged epithets. The video was posted on TMZ, the celebrity news site.”

News for today, brought to you yesterday…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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