Tag Archives: Channel4news

Watch Out For The Cuts – Chart Yours Online

We all know that this year’s Budget was not a rosy one. It means a lot of cuts for a lot of people in the coming year.

Our very own Your2pence-er Rebecca Bell looked at how the media covered the event on the big day, but looking into the future Channel 4 News has launched a user-generated microsite which lets people build a UK wide and ongoing picture of the impact of the budget.

Channel 4 cuts map, letting you chart the cuts in your area

Screengrab of Channel 4 cuts map, letting you chart the cuts in your area


Why? Well for Channel 4 it’s a bit of data collection and newsgathering from right across the country without having to life a finger.

It lets people mark out the cuts in their areas and by sector – see the map on the left – as well as letting them link local sites and blogs to the map by using twitter #c4cuts, or submitting online.

The reasoning behind the map

Ed Fraser, commissioning editor for Channel 4 News online, said:

“People want the experiences from their region to feed into our journalism, and they want to be involved in creating a comprehensive picture of how these big announcements play out for them.

“With time, we’re hoping this will be a revealing map of how cuts are being made, and how they are affecting communities across the country. It will be used to inform our web users, but also our coverage.”

One of a kind?

“Wow! How novel!” I hear you say, “The first of its kind”. Well not quite. There are actually several sites already dedicated to cuts which Channel 4 didn’t use.

These include both where are the cuts and false economy’s ‘Breaking Britain’ maps shown below. Like the Channel 4 map, these allow users to post cuts and savings in their areas.

Where are the cuts screen grab

Screengrab from Where are the Cuts


Where are the cuts say…

“The cuts you see on this site display have all been collected from official sources or entered directly by members of the public. There’s no ‘official’ list of what’s being cut where, so we need your help to build up the map.”

“So, if you know about a service that’s been cut near you – like a library, or a bus route – or have read about some redundancies at your local council, or that there’s suddenly less money for a research programme at a university, you can help build up the Where Are The Cuts? map.”

Screengrab from False Economy

False Economy lets you see the cuts per region and then allows even more detailed analysis by breaking down the cuts further by area.

Added to this, the site also allows people to post their own testimonies on the site,  letting them explain not only what the cuts are, but how it affects them personally.

Users can add their own testimonies. Screengrab from False Economy


Tracking the maps’ success

And how successful are these UGC maps at the moment? Well at time of uploading this blogpost, Channel 4 had around 127 reports, wherearethecuts 1,171 and falseeconomy around 450. Not great you may think, but lets face it, with tough times ahead and as the cuts go deeper, more people may feel the impulse to upload the cuts in their areas.


The Budget 2011 Online

Budget day always creates a flurry of excitement in the news. The press hype it by trying to second guess what’s going to change, journalists are desperate to work out what the headlines are and the House of Commons is packed for the most important speech of the year from the Chancellor.

With the speech starting at 12.30, lunchtime TV news cut to it live with summaries rolling across the bottom of the screen and some special programmes. Online, it was tackled in different ways and here are a few examples.

Channel 4

Titled LIVE BLOG: Budget 2011 – this newsite wanted to stress just how up to date they are. The page had a mixture of content, tweets from those using their hashtag, summaries of what Osbourne was saying and videos. I was impressed with the speedy upload of videos as the speech was happening. The one that stood out to me the most was the video below, featuring their Economics Editor, Faisal Islam.

The use of Twitter and the live speech in the background was a good move. The video stream again gave the page an edge, kept it current and gave it a feel of live TV. Without actively encouraging viewers to tweet, the likelihood of them doing so is increased by the fact that Faisal is addressing them visually via the video – the audience feel as though he is talking directly to them. Its great to see UGC at the forefront and I was glad to see it wasn’t all just commentary and the live blog included lots of users’ views.

The Guardian also provided live coverage. Perhaps a more traditional take, with short bursts of commentary from the senior political correspondent, Andrew Sparrow, interspersed with the pinpointing of new topics as they came up in the speech, such as….

1.09pm: Osborne is on education now.

1.12pm: Osborne is talking about pensions.

I was pleased to see that later on they did include some UGC in the form of a summary page of comments and reactions.

The BBC made a budget calculator designed to show you if you would be worse or better off. The interactive element was good and twitter was full of people moaning/boasting about their results. Can it really be taken as accurate though? Surely there are too many individual financial variables?


UGC Snow Story

As the snow begins to fall journalistic cliché blankets Britain. We’re a nation obsessed with talking about the weather, yet we still manage to be embarrassingly unprepared for it. The snow barely has time to settle before the news headlines ‘treacherous’ travel conditions and dangerously low grit supplies.

This is when the role of the citizen journalist really comes into it’s own. When it’s impossible for the reporters and TV crews to get to the snow-scene unscathed, it’s up to snow’s victims and enthusiasts to do the storytelling.

Screengrab from Sky - Your Photos. Photo by Nina Power - "Frosty the snowman and friend Nathan. Taken in the back garden

The BBC UGC Hub receives thousands of stills and videos on the days it snows, interestingly far more than during heat-waves, and the Channel 4 Facebook page has set up an album especially for its viewers snowy scenes.

We no longer have to rely on meteorologist’s changeable predictions alone, but on those than can physically see the snowfall from their window. Twitter users can create a live snow map of the UK by tweeting their postcode and snow rating to the hashtag #uksnow. Ben Marsh, #uksnowmap’s creator, says that from November 23rd to December 31st the site notched up half a million hits and 85,000 reports from 150,000 tweets.

"Heathrow T3 looks like a war zone - debris, foil blankets & camping passengers" @PaulLomax

But UGC’s finest snow hour came this weekend when BAA banned TV crews from entering Heathrow airport during the snow chaos that caused thousands of passengers to miss their flights. Newsrooms began calling out to passengers for news on their experiences. Along with Flickr, Twitter and YouTube there was soon an influx of shocking stills and videos of people camping out in foil blankets – more akin to a warzone than an airport terminal! Some posted videos of themselves as reporter and interviewer, questioning other passengers about their experiences.

BAA might have been able to keep out the professional broadcasters, but what difference did it make? They underestimated the growing power and proficiency of the citizen journalists, who proved more than capable of getting their story told to thousands of viewers and listeners.

When it comes to a snow story UGC tells it best.

"Not a toilet seat but a plane window and yes, that is snow" @DaisyPoppets