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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July, 2005, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Concern over mobile photos appeal
The bus blast
Images such as these were recorded on people's mobile phones

Asking the public to send in their mobile phone pics from events such as 7/7 is sensationalist and risks lives, some of the audience claim. Not so, according to one BBC news chief, who argues it helps relay stories of vital importance.

As the recent terror attacks in London have shown, user-generated content - such as people sending in photos and videos from their mobile phones - is on the rise.

However, while praised by broadcasters for the depth these images can add to a story, from Sky to the BBC, some audience members have questioned its value.

Many of you were baffled by the BBC asking for people to send in their pictures and videos at a time when the emergency services and communications networks were stretched.

It feels like voyeurism of the worst kind
BBC News user

It helps us tell the story truthfully and accurately
Vicky Taylor,
BBC Interactivity Editor

One viewer said: "The news service itself was reporting, and I quote from your website, 'People have been asked to make only essential mobile phone calls, as networks are operating at near capacity'.

"How can BBC news programmes...invite further mobile phone traffic in these circumstances and what is the possible public justification?"

Other BBC News users thought the process of asking people for their images smacked of sensationalism.

Pain and suffering

One said: "I found the use of mobile phone pictures, especially from inside the tunnel, to be very disturbing and distasteful.

"It felt like news programmes were just throwing it on screen with no regard for how people might feel about being shown this footage."

"It feels like voyeurism of the worst kind."

And another added: "I am writing to express my disgust at your news coverage of the recent events in London. I am appalled that a reputable news agency is encouraging people to use their mobile phones to capture images of individuals pain and suffering.

"The quality of these sort of photographs is so poor, I cannot imagine they have any place on the news anyway.

"I hope that you will stop this service and try to encourage people to look after each other in times of tragedy, rather than to photograph them."

NewsWatch asked the BBC's Editor of Interactivity Vicky Taylor to respond to some of your concerns:

The public information sent to the BBC, either as text, e-mail or as still and video images, is a key way in which we can tell the breaking news story.

It was information from members of the public, not the authorities, which first told of the gravity of the situation on July 7.

This information is then used to tell the story as public service. On the day, more than 100 million people went to the BBC news website to seek information.

Bus explosion
Pictures such as this show events before news crews can get there

The overloading of the phone system is not simply down to people messaging the BBC - on the day we received 300 e-mails to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.

People were quite understandably ringing their loved ones and the volume of calls made for these reasons would outweigh any traffic from the public to the BBC.

We would, of course, take into consideration any request from the authorities if they believed our actions were jeopardising emergency efforts, but this was not an issue on July 7.

We are of course aware of our editorial responsibility to authenticate any material sent to us and rather than seek 'sensationalist' pictures, our aim in asking for this content is to help us tell the story truthfully and accurately.

As the public are often in places where our reporters cannot be, we feel this link with the public is an important one in helping us as news broadcasters do our job.



SEE ALSO
Mobile networks bear blast strain
07 Jul 05 |  Technology
Mobiles capture blast aftermath
08 Jul 05 |  Technology


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