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Who, what, when, where and why

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Who, what, when, verify

We all know that ‘YouTube’ is not a source, right?

Or maybe not. According to a Tow Center for Journalism study, 14% of YouTube videos shared by the media are not correctly attributed.

This discouraging piece of data has stuck in my mind ever since Tow Fellows Claire Wardle and Sam Dubberley presented it in a panel discussion on the media’s increasing reliance on user generated content (UGC) at the International Journalism Festival last week.

Correctly identifying the U in the UGC can be more difficult than you would imagine when unscrupulous users scrape videos from their original channel and republish them as their own.

This problem is a business opportunity for companies that serve as agents for the authors of trending videos. One such company is Storyful, which helps content creators reach larger audiences and simultaneously help producers find engaging UGC.

With detectives to find the original source, Storyful and other agencies serve as an insurance policy to news organizations and help them avoid embarrassing retractions. (Right, CBS?)

Such agencies can also help citizen journalists handle requests from media organizations. When your exploding volcano video is trending, you need to be getting out of the way of the lava flow, not answering emails.

At Sourcefabric, we believe that the role of citizen journalism in media will continue to grow, and so will expectations of the veracity of information media organizations publish. So as we build tools like Citizen Desk, we’re looking for ways to include verification into the workflow, and to save editors’ time and brainpower by automating as many of the tedious tasks as is feasible.

I’d love to hear what you think. How does your news organisation handle UGC? How do you verify the content and the author? Are we too reliant on citizen journalists? Send me an email or tweet me @dougiegyro.

BTW, that photo above comes from the #IJF14 Flickr set of great photos from Perugia. Check it out.