Newsrooms bombarded with public's oil blaze pics

By Caitlin Pike

The Buncefield oil explosion resulted in an unprecedented surge of
amateur material being submitted to the BBC, Sky and ITV on Sunday,
which played a huge role in the early coverage of the story.

The first picture came into the BBC at 6.19am, minutes after the
initial explosion, with the first mobile phone video footage sent in at
6.23am.

Sky had the first moving video filmed by a member of the
public on air just after 7am. The ITV News Channel was airing new films
and photos taken by the public throughout the morning and the channel
was simulcast on ITV1 and opted into by CNN International.

Editor
of the ITV News Channel, Ben Rayner, said: “More and more people have
video phones or digital cameras and they are becoming increasingly
aware that broadcasters are hungry for their material. “It is coverage
rather than journalism and it has always existed – remember the
Zapruder footage of JFK being shot.

The difference now is that there are more people with the technology to get it to broadcasters more quickly.”

Sky
News technology manager James Weeks said: “Material coming in from
viewers blew out our mail boxes twice, which hasn’t happened before.
Fiftyfour minutes after the blast happened we had picture and video
footage of the fires on Sky News.

“This technology is always going to beat traditional crews and it isn’t going away.”

BBC
News received more than 6,500 emails to yourpics@bbc.co.uk – many with
multiple images and video clips from mobile phones and digital cameras
of the blaze at the oil depot.

On the day of the London bombings (7 July) the BBC received around 1,000 images and mobile clips.

BBC
UK assignments editor Morwen Williams was in charge of the BBC crew at
Buncefield on Sunday and fielded 10 members of the public who arrived
at the base with their own films.

Two of the amateur filmmakers had such good coverage, along with their own reporting it was broadcast on the Ten O’Clock News.

Williams
said: “The public are developing very good filming skills in their
personal lives and in the last year there has been a significant
increase in the quality of their material and we are reaping the
benefits.”

Half a million unique users (525,808)n accessed the
News Player – the BBC’s online news video service – for clips and
footage on Sunday (second only to requests on 7 July).

The largest number of requests on the service was for live footage streamed online and a news package by Gavin Hewitt.

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