The Associated Press named Fergus Bell its first international social media and user generated content editor, the newswire announced Monday.
The London-based journalist will work to secure copyright and verify material submitted by readers and viewers, a position shown to be critical in the wake of the Arab Spring, which saw networks like Al Jazeera and the BBC relying on cellphone videos from Egyptians and Libyans on the ground.
"Fergus Bell has put the AP front and center in our efforts to secure the copyright and forensically verify user-generated content, which has become a focal newsgathering resource for the AP," Tamer Fakahany, the AP's deputy managing editor and head of the news agency's Nerve Center, said in a memo to staff.
Fakahany lauded Bell's work gathering social media posts to illustrate stories about the uprising in Syria, where travel restrictions made it difficult to place agency correspondents.
Bell joined AP six years ago as a news assistant on the television news desk in London and worked his way up to senior producer.
“I’m really excited to take on this new role and continue working to find new ways of telling stories through user-generated content, whether it be from difficult places we can’t get to or allowing us to always find that one person who was in the right place at just the right time,” Bell said in a statement.