Q&A on podcasting and journalism with Claire Wardle

Claire Wardle of Storyful and of BBC fame, graced us with her interview on how social media is changing the journalism game, and about the evolution of radio and podcasting. Read on for more:

Do you mind introducing yourself?

My name is Claire Wardle and I’ve recently started a new role as Director of Development and Integration at Storyful which is a social news agency based in Dublin.

It’s great to have you! How did you start your experience at BBC News?

I was an academic teaching at Cardiff School of Journalism for 5 years. In 2008 I completed a year-long piece of research with the BBC on how audiences were submitting stories, photos and videos to newsrooms via SMS and email. Off the back of that the BBC asked me to come and work with them for 6 months, and in that time social media suddenly exploded. The BBC asked me to develop social media training for their journalists and to date about 3000 journalists have completed the training. I’ve also trained staff at other broadcasting organisaions around the world.

So cool! Let’s get right to it: how do you think journalism has changed with the introduction of new digital tools, podcasting in particular?

Now people are much more likely to find content because it’s being shared with them by their social networks. As a result, ‘chunks’ of content are becoming more and more popular, whether that’s a 3 minute clip shared on Audioboo or Soundcloud, or a 20 min podcast via Spreaker.

And in terms of news gathering, people who are witnesses to events are uploading their own content, sometimes that’s background noise, but often people are interviewing witnesses or giving a running commentary of what they’re seeing. As a result journalists stuck in newsrooms are able to connect with these people to make their coverage stronger.

Like at your site Storyful.com. How reliable is user-generated content in terms of information, and how can I recognize quality content?

User generated content comes in all forms and the sheer quantity of material is eye-watering. The most talented journalists today are those who can find the best material and verify it as quickly as possible. The best way of verifying content is to contact the person who uploaded it, and to ask them detailed questions about where they are, what they can see, what technology they are using and to cross reference that with previous content, Google maps, weather forecasts etc. Verifying user generated content is much harder than people think, it’s not just a case of doing a search of Twitter and publishing the first thing you see.

Radiodays Europe is coming up shortly. What are the current hot topics that might come up?

Digital vs FM will be a hot topic. Radio stations know their FM signals will disappear sooner rather than later, and it’s whether radio stations are ready. The other hot topic is the development of apps such as  Spotify or Myxer where listeners can create their own playlists and chat with others as they listen to it. This ‘social’ type of listening is becoming increasingly popular and radio stations have to catch up with these trends so they don’t get left behind. DIY radio is also a hot topic. Sites like Spreaker and Flipzu give people real power to make their own content and to share it widely. Again, that’s a huge threat to established radio stations.

It’s a change that will affect all of us. Anything you would like to share with Spreaker’s community?

I love Spreaker. I don’t think the ‘mainstream media’ have a sense of how many people are making really high quality content every day. The fact that the audience can choose what they consume – a podcast shared on Spreaker or a current affairs programme on the BBC World Service is what makes the time we’re living in so exciting.

Thanks so much for the interview, Claire!

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