CNN Bringing iReport Closer - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
11:36 AM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins

CNN Bringing iReport Closer unveiled a new site design to reporters Thursday that it will launch on Monday that includes more prominent use of video and a radical change in how it incorporates so-called citizen journalism. unveiled a new site design to reporters Thursday that it will launch on Monday that includes more prominent use of video and a radical change in how it incorporates so-called citizen journalism.In contrast to the way it treats user generated content now, which is to quarantine it on a separate domain,, CNN plans to fold the content under a tab on the new site. Moreover, CNN will no longer tag stories they've actually vetted with "On CNN" (since they'll all be "on" CNN), but rather tag stories that haven't been vetted.

"We're basically legitimizing citizen journalists," Lila King, a senior producer for iReport, told me. It might be about time.

CNN gets approximately 16,000 iReport stories per month, or an average of 500 a day. In order to vet more of them, King told me, editors will get a hand from yet more crowd-sourcing in the form of social media indicators (as stories get voted up by visitors).

When I asked King for her favorite iReport stories, she mentioned the reports CNN got out of Tehran this spring during the massive demonstrations protesting disputed election results, and a story about someone flying a Confederate flag in Tampa ahead of the 2008 elections.

Neither of those stories were assigned, but King said that producers regularly seed iReport with story ideas.

King told me the biggest surprise she's had with iReports is the way some suggestions turn into huge successes, both with respect to how they're interpreted by the iReporters, and how well they're received by readers. Some stories "blow up in ways I never would have expected," she told me.

CNN also announced at the unveiling, held at CNN parent Time Warner's Manhattan headquarters, that it will integrate all of TED's archived content as well as new talks at TED by distinguished guests.

(For those of you who don't know TED -- which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design -- it's a forum that gathers annually to listen to speeches by a wide variety of speakers who are subject matter experts on a very wide variety of topics.)

With these two moves, CNN is doing something that traditional news organizations have been loathe to accept outside the confines of their op-ed sections, which is to allow external voices into the news gathering and production process.

The site redesign is good for a lot of other reasons, but would have been an empty gesture without these two additions, which represent a fundamental shift in what is considered news and who is fit to report it.

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