All users submitting content should seek to adhere to the Philosophies and Codes mentioned below:

UCM must report the honest news, from a common-sense point of view.

Reporting news: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

What is “News”?

The Definition of NEWS is:
(Noun, n.)
1. Newly received or noteworthy information, esp. about recent or important events.
2. A broadcast or published report of an update.

  • Late 14c., “new things,” plural of new (n.) “new thing,” from new (adj.); after French nouvelles, used in Bible translations to render Medieval Latin nova (neuter plural) “news,” literally “new things.” Sometimes still regarded as plural, 17c.-19c.

^ “Online Etymology Dictionary”. Online Etymology Dictionary. 

According to Harold Evans, the former Times and Sunday Times Editor, a news story…

• Is about necessary information and unusual events.
• Should be based on observable facts.
• Should be an unbiased, objective account.
• Should be produced free from the reporter’s opinion.

^ Evans, Harold ‘’Editing and Design: Volume 1’’ (1972)

What makes it interesting or newsworthy? So what are the ingredients of a good story?

Newsworthiness” is defined as a subject having sufficient relevance to the public or a special audience to warrant press attention or coverage.

^ “newsworthiness – Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia”.

Michael Schudson, professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has said that “everything we thought we once knew about journalism needs to be rethought in the Digital Age.”

^ Schudson, Michael (2011). The Sociology of News (2nd edition). p. 205. ISBN 0393912876.

Today’s educators say:

• Impact – or broad appeal: Events that affect many people – the more it affects, the better the story. A proposed income tax increase, for instance, has impact because it will affect a lot of people.

• Timeliness – or immediacy: News goes out of date quickly – it’s timely if you produce it when it happens. What is deemed “recent” is related to the publication cycle of the news medium, namely that in which the information appears. For example, on BBC News 24, events that happened during the past half hour are considered timely. In your monthly parish magazine, events that took place over the past 30 days are timely. In this way, it all depends on the publication cycle of the news medium as to what is deemed “timely”.

• Prominence – or stories involving well-known people, places, companies, or groups, especially celebs: If you or I trip and fall in church, no one will take much interest because we aren’t well known. But if the Archbishop of Canterbury trips and falls during a service, that’s a news story.

• Proximity – or closeness to home: events occurring in the newspaper circulation or broadcast area are likely to be of the most interest – 2,000 job losses in Taiwan won’t get a mention. 20 redundancies in Cambridge may well make the front page of the local paper. The success of your summer fête will be an essential story for your parish magazine.

• Conflict – stories about incompatible people or organizations at odds with each other: Information has conflict if it involves some kind of disagreement between two or more people. Conflict has drama, and drama is newsworthy.

• Bizarre – or out-of-the-ordinary: what deviates sharply from what you would expect of and experience in everyday life – unusual, strange or wacky happenings.

• Currency – or flavor of the month: events and situations that are currently in the news and being talked about.

• Human interest – people are interested in people, so personalize your story.

• Everyday problems or interests – food, health, housing, schools, work, money problems, parenting, do-it-yourself, etc.

An interesting news story will contain some of these elements, but it’s unlikely it will contain them all. Do not try to stuff your story to make it more interesting; if you following these tips, your article should speak for itself. Remember, all stories should be accurate and truthful.

Information Technology (IT) and Citizen Journalism:

Recent technological advances in news-gathering have made possible a level of immediacy that was unimaginable just a few decades ago.  Information Technology (IT) has expanded to encompass many aspects of computing and technology, all of which have totally revolutionized broadcasting.

In the UK, for instance, BBC News 24 (or the BBC News Channel as it is now called) has been able to diversify its content, offering two-minute, looped bulletins available to view via BBCi (the BBC’s digital interactive television services), BBC News Online (the website of BBC News) and on the BBC’s mobile website. These abilities come equipped alongside individual weather and sport bulletins. As of May of 2007, the channel can also be viewed on the BBC News website through a live stream.

The new technology is used to encourage an interactive service, with viewers emailing their opinions and, more importantly, reporting news stories.  Viewers can also text information or send pictures and video clips of news events directly to the BBC Newsroom on their mobile phones.  Thus, pictures and copy of breaking news can reach the newsroom long before professional journalists and camera operators reach the scene.  In the race for immediacy, the growing number of contributions from amateur journalists often means that stories reaching the newsroom run the risk of being less accurate and considerably more biased.

New technological advances mean that people can see news as it is happening.  Increasingly, television and radio journalists are reporting what is taking place rather than what has just occurred.  So with less time and opportunity to explain the background to a news story, reporters tend to describe unfolding events in much the same way as a sports commentator reports a live match.

The insatiable media appetite for immediacy means that many of today’s news stories tend to lack any detailed explanation of what lies behind the event, and so they run the risk of being bias.  What’s more, in an attempt to get an exclusive story, journalists under pressure typically adopt the dodgy dictum:  “Don’t get it right; just write.”

Moreover, technological developments mean media outlets are more open to audience input and feedback. Viewers and readers can text or email their opinions to newsrooms and indicate which news stories are of most interest to them. In an attempt to achieve relevance and maintain their share in a rapidly evolving market, news organizations may find themselves forced to adopt alternative news values that will attract and keep audiences. The growth of interactive media and citizen journalism is ever changing – including the traditional distinction between news producers and their hitherto passive audience.

^ News Values. URL –

 The BBC lists the following values:

• Truth and accuracy.
• Impartiality and diversity of opinion.
• Editorial integrity and independence.
• Serving the public interest.
• Fairness.
• Balancing the right to report with respect for privacy.
• Balancing the right to report with protection of the vulnerable.
• Safeguarding children.
• Being accountable to the audience.

“UCM needs to set a higher standard for our times. It’s your voice; use it well and wisely.”

^ This list appears on the BBC website – Editorial Values. [/dropdown_box]

Facts: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

What is Fact?

The Definition of FACT is:
(Noun, n.)
1. A static thing that is indisputably the case.
2. Information that is used as evidence, or as part of a report or news article.

  • The word “fact” derives from the Latin “factum,” and was first used in English with the same meaning: “a thing done or performed”, a use that is now obsolete.

^ “Fact”. OED_2d_Ed_1989, (but note the conventional uses: after the fact and before the fact).

Guidelines for Outlining “Facts”:

The fact is that . . .
The (main) point is that . . .
This proves that . . .
What it comes down to is that . . .
It is obvious that . . .
It is certain that . . .
One can say that . . .
It is clear that . . .
There is no doubt that . . .

When reporting UCM “News” Ask yourself:

1. Is it news?
2. Is it noteworthy information?
3. Is it recent, historical, or important?
4. Is it your opinion?
5. Does it have impact?
6. What are the facts, and what are the opposing-facts?


Opinions: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

Is there room for opinion with UCM?

Yes… but, (opinion must always be stated as opinion.)

The Definition of OPINION is:

(Noun, n.)
1. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
2. The beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing.


There are many real-life situations where you have to state your opinion, e.g. a friend asks you for advice, or your boss wants to hear your opinion on a business matter. In English lessons, formulation of opinion is a popular way of testing your English writing skills.


Think about the topic first. What’s your opinion? What arguments can you use to support your ideas?

Structure and Content:

Introduction: defining the problem

Use the introduction to catch the readers’ attention and keep interest in the topic. Define the problem you are going to discuss and provide a short overview on what you think and why.

Opinion and Reasons: give reasons for your opinion.

Concentrate on one main point per paragraph. Exactly what to write depends on the task (see below).

Conclusion: summarize the most important arguments that best support your opinion.

Important Tenses, Simple Present, Typical Tasks

Comment: stating your own opinion

State your opinion and give examples and arguments that support your opinion – statement, reason, and example.

Compare: find common and distinct features

Draw conclusions

Criticize: find advantages and disadvantages

Comment on somebody’s opinion (usually in a negative way).

Discuss: analyze all aspects of a problem

(What is …?) or ( Is it okay to …?) – weighing the pros and cons.

Evaluate: analyze a problem

Show advantages and disadvantages.

Justify: support an opinion

Show advantages

^ URL:

Guidelines for Outlining “Opinions”:

It seems to me that . . .
In my opinion . . .
I am of the opinion that …/ I take the view that . . .
My personal view is that . . .
In my experience . . .
As far as I understand / can see . . .
As I see it . . . / From my point of view . . .
As far as I know … /
From what I know . . .
I might be wrong but . . .
If I am not mistaken . . .
I believe one can (safely) say . . .
It is claimed that . . .
I must admit that . . .
I cannot deny that . . .
I can imagine that . . .
I think/believe/suppose . . .
Personally, I think . . .
That is why I think . . .
I am sure/certain/convinced that . . .
I am not sure/certain, but . . .
I am not sure, because I don’t know the situation exactly . . .
I am not convinced that . . .
I have read that . . .
I am of mixed opinions (about / on) . . .
I am of mixed opinions about / on this . . .
I have no opinion in this matter . . .

^ URL:

Guidelines for Outlining “Agreement”:

There are many reasons for . . .
There is no doubt about it that . . .
I simply must agree with that . . .
I am of the same opinion . . .
I am of the same opinion as the author . . .
I completely/absolutely agree with the author . . .

Guidelines for Outlining “Qualified Disagreement”:

It is only partly true that . . .
I can agree with that only with reservations . . .
That seems obvious, but . . .
That is not necessarily so . . .
It is not as simple as it seems . . .
Under certain circumstances . . .

Guidelines for Outlining “Disagreement”:

There is more to it than that . . .
The problem is that . . .
I (very much) doubt whether . . .
This is in complete contradiction to . . .
What is even worse . . .
I am of a different opinion because . . .
I cannot share this / that / the view . . .
I cannot agree with this idea . . .
What I object to is . . .
Unlike the author I think . . .

^ URL: [/dropdown_box]

Article, Multimedia & Image use: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

UCM Contributors:

Can I upload images of people?

If a UCM image includes an identifiable person, using the image for commercial purposes may infringe that person’s right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the person. (This can be accomplished filming the subject-giving permission, or with a signed model release.)

Using Content from other sources for UCM content: 

Can I add something to UCM that I got from somewhere else?

The absence of a copyright notice does not mean that a work may be freely used. If in doubt, assume you cannot use it. You can add any type of content if it has been made available by authors under an appropriate license. You can add content if it is in the public domain. If the material you would like to use is not currently licensed, you may be able to obtain permission to use it.

See Fair Use Laws for more info:


Sourcing/Ethics: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

In journalism, a “source” is: a person, publication, or other record or document that gives timely information. Outside journalism, sources are sometimes known as “news sources”. Examples of sources include official records, publications, broadcasts, officials in government, businesses, organizations, corporations, witnesses of crimes, accidents, or other events, and people involved with or affected by a news event or issue.

A shield law is legislation designed to protect reporters’ privilege, or the right of news reporters to refuse to testify as to information and/or sources of information obtained during the news gathering and dissemination process. Currently the U.S. federal government has not enacted any National Shield Laws, but most states do have shield laws or other protections for reporters in place.

^ URL:

 According to Shoemaker (1996) and McQuail (1994), there are a multitude of factors that tend to condition the acceptance of sources as bona fide by investigative journalists. Reporters are expected to develop and cultivate sources, especially if they regularly cover a specific topic, known as a “beat”. Beat reporters must, however, be cautious of becoming too close to their sources. Reporters often, but not always, give greater leeway to sources with little experience. For example, sometimes a person will say they don’t want to talk, and then proceed to talk; if that person is not a public figure, reporters are less likely to use that information. Journalists are also encouraged to be skeptical without being cynical (“If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”). As a rule of thumb, but especially when reporting on controversy, reporters are expected to use multiple sources.

^ URL:

“Speaking Terms”

There are several categories of “speaking terms” (agreements concerning attribution) which cover information conveyed in conversations with journalists. In the UK, the following conventions are generally accepted:

“On-the-record”: all that is said can be quoted and attributed.

“Un-Attributable”: what is said can be reported but not attributed.

“Off-the-record”: the information is provided to inform a decision or provide a confidential explanation, not for publication.

However, confusion over the precise meaning of “un-attributable” and “off-the-record” has led to more detailed formulations:

  • Chatham House Rule(s): Named after Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs), which introduced the rule in 1927: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.
  • “Lobby Terms”: in the UK accredited journalists are allowed in to the otherwise restricted Members’ Lobby on the basis that information received there is never attributed and events there are not reported. “Lobby terms” are agreed to extend this arrangement to cover discussions that take place elsewhere.
  • “Not for attribution”: (as described by the Canadian Association of Journalists). The comments may be quoted directly, but the source may only be identified in general terms (e.g., “a government insider”). In practice such general descriptions may be agreed with the interviewee.
  • “On background”: (Canadian Association of Journalists). The thrust of the briefing may be reported (and the source characterized in general terms as above) but direct quotes may not be used.
  • “Deep background”: This term is used in the U.S., though not consistently. Most journalists would understand “deep background” to mean that the information may not be included in the article but is used by the journalist to enhance his or her view of the subject matter, or to act as a guide to other leads or sources. Most deep background information is confirmed elsewhere before being reported. Alternative meanings exist; for instance, a White House spokesman said, “Deep background means that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can’t be quoted.”

^ URL:

Other Resources:

NPR states the following as their ethical code of journalism:

The University of Iowa teaches the following ethical code of journalism:

The New York Times Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism: [/dropdown_box]

Ways to Get Banned from UCM: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

  • Copyright violations. (Article author takes full responsibility for copyright material in question).
  • Incitement to commit a “crime”/”non-defensive violence”. 
  • Lying/Presenting false facts deliberately. 


Audio & Video Formatting: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

These basic principles will help you compress your videos properly before you upload them.


We accept many popular forms of digital media. We purifier the below formatting when submitting video. (Here are some codecs that we will not accept: Go2Meeting, Canopus HQ, and Apple Intermediate Codec.) We do accept the following:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .WMV
  • .FLV

Codec: H.264:A codec is the format in which your video will be encoded. Different codecs have different features and varying quality. For best results, we recommend using H.264 (sometimes referred to as MP4).

Frame rate 24, 25, or 30 FPS: If you know at which frame rate you shot, it is best to encode at that same frame rate. However, if it exceeds 30 FPS (frames per second), you should encode your video at half that frame rate. For example, if you shot 60 FPS, you should encode at 30 FPS. If you’re uncertain what frame rate you shot at, set it to either “Current” or 30 FPS. If there is an option for key frames, use the same value you used for frame rate.

Data rate: 2000 kbps (SD), 5000 kbps (HD): This setting controls both the visual quality of the video and its file size. In most video editors, this is measured of kilobits per second (kbps). Use 2000 kbps for standard definition or 5000 kbps for high definition video.

Resolution: 640×480 (SD), 1280×720 (HD):Choose 640×480 for 4:3 SD video, 640×360 for 16:9 SD video, and 1280×720 or 1920×1080 for HD. If you have the option to control the pixel aspect ratio (not the display aspect ratio), make sure it’s set to “1:1” or “1.00,” sometimes referred to as “square pixels.”

De-interlacing: If you are shooting on an older camera, enable the De-interlacing option. Otherwise, you may get weird-looking horizontal lines in your video. With newer camera models, De-interlacing shouldn’t be an issue, so you can leave this option unchecked.


Codec: AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) For best results, we recommend using AAC for the audio codec.

Data rate: 320 kbps320 kbps is the highest quality audio data rate we currently support.

Sample rate: 44.1 kHz44.1 kHz is the highest audio sample rate we currently support. [/dropdown_box]

UCM Credentials: [dropdown_box expand_text=”Information” show_more=”More” show_less=”Less” start=”hide”]

To qualify you must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum of 25 UCM published articles.
  • After publishing your 25th approved *article, *video, *picture. You will be eligible for credentials. [/dropdown_box]