‘They stole it from my Instagram’

New research study explores how newspaper websites use eyewitness media

Early findings from our new research study will be presented at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia later today. They demonstrate the amount of eyewitness media used by newspaper websites to report both hard and soft news and reveal concerning practices regarding the acquisition and use of photographs and videos shared on social media.

Last year, the co-founders of Eyewitness Media Hub were funded by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism to conduct a major content analysis into how TV news organisations use eyewitness media. The study focused on the output of eight global channels and their websites, and highlighted a number of issues, particularly in the areas of crediting and labelling.

For this latest research, published next month, Pete Brown from Eyewitness Media Hub has studied the websites of eight newspapers from around the world over 21 days. Sites selected based on geographical location and readership are: the Cairo Post, Clarín, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the New York Times, People’s Daily, the Sydney Morning Herald and Times of India.

However, content analysis as a research method can not answer deeper questions, such as whether permission had been given for the content to be used in the first place, or whether the eyewitness wanted to be credited. The only way to do that is by talking to eyewitnesses about their experiences.

Therefore, this research will include a number of case studies that give a voice to eyewitnesses, based on interviews conducted with people whose photographs and videos were published in online articles during our sampling period.

One case study that will be previewed later today exposes the frustrations of an Instagram user whose photograph was taken directly from the social platform and used without permission by a number of news sites. This video provides a summary of the case study.

The user, Maddy Campbell (otherwise known as Mawdy Cyrus) was extremely embarrassed by the fact that it may have appeared that she sent the photograph to news outlets herself.

The digital publication of this research is being funded by the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, the Hugh Cunningham Professorship in Journalism Excellence and the Knight Foundation.

Follow @emhub on Twitter for updates and feedback on today’s panel in Perugia.

For more information and to receive a link to the report once it has been published, please email jenni@emhub.co

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Setting standards for the creation, discovery, verification and publication of eyewitness media.

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