Oil depot blast generates huge viewer response for news broadcasters

Caitlin Pike

The
BBC received a record-breaking number of eye-witness accounts and
pictures following the dramatic explosions at the Buncefield oil depot
in Hertfordshire on Sunday morning.

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 News had the
first moving video just after 7am. Technology manager James Weeks said:
“Material coming in from viewers blew-out our mail boxes twice
yesterday which hasn’t happened before. 54 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 over 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 on the 7tJuly the BBC’s yourpics
received around 1000 images and mobile clips from the public.)n

Half
a million unique users (525,808) 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 was for
live footage streamed online and a news package by Gavin Hewitt. In
all, there were over a quarter of a million requests for user generated
material.

Pete Clifton, head of BBC News Interactive said: “The
range of material we received from our readers was absolutely
extraordinary. Video, still pictures and emails poured in from the
moment the blast happened, and it played a central part in the way we
reported the unfolding events.”

On the BBC News Website an
index of user generated content was made available in broadband. On
interactive television, digital satellite and cable users had a
dedicated loop of UGC material while all digital television platforms
including Freeview, were able to see material as part of packaged
coverage.

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