The European Journalism Centre’s (EJC) presentation at the PICNIC Festival 2012 in Amsterdam, on ‘Maps, the Power of the Crowd & Big Data Verification’, left those in attendance with a head full of ideas about how the media and the world are changing together. The venue was Amsterdam’s Eye Film Centre, which provided an open creative atmosphere for over 65 sessions during the two-day event.
The presentation was the EJC’s fifth appearance at PICNIC, which describes itself as a leading European platform for innovation and creativity. The EJC brought together panellists representing enterprises ranging from the traditional news world like the BBC to innovators of new uses of media like Storyful and OpenStreetMap.
Kicking off the day was Charlie Beckett the director of the POLIS and the department of communication at the London School of Economics. Beckett opened his talk by introducing a broader concept of journalism combining the networked journalist with public participation and new technology. This dynamic creates the demand for new techniques, new narratives and a multidimensional context to which the news is produced. We live in an age of uncertainty and complexity and more than ever journalists are needed to decipher and explain the enormous amount of information available to the public. How the public uses and interacts with the news is also changing. Beckett illustrated the misconception that technology changes how people use the news by contending that how people use technology is based on their personal history and lifestyle and that successful media will be able to produce content that uses this idea. Beckett also identified changes in the news itself. News used to be a product and now it has transformed into a process. News used to be an industry and now it is a service. The issue with the business model here is the place for ownership. The solution according to Beckett is forming an added value relationship based on understanding the social context of news consumers. With this in mind a business model can be created that will pay for the future.
The next speaker to take the stage was Helena Puig Larrauri from the Standby Task Force, and Erik van Heeswijk, from “Film it Yourself” also presented the idea of karaoke as an apt metaphor for user generated content. The idea is always to build attraction for quality “singers” by finding a better stage that motivates a quality performance. The effort must be appreciated to generate value. He also reminded us that UGC is not free. It takes time and resources to turn that content into something valuable. It is an “extractive industry” which derives the good stuff from the mountain of content.
After the presentations the panellists discussed and rehashed their ideas together, which proved to be a long and lively discussion on the role of media, the consumer and the way in which we think about information. The day was then capped off by a leisurely ride with the panellists and EJC staff through the canals of Amsterdam, where one could take the time to get to know the very interesting people we’d been listening to, a little more personally. It was a nice way to end an informative day.