CNN invites citizens to join in on the news coverage: amateur videos to get "air" time on new web site It had to happen. First, CBS made it possible for viewers to choose which news videos they wanted to see and in what order. Now, CNN has gone one step further by making it possible for viewers (citizen journalists, they're called) to produce their own news videos and submit them for sharing with others. The new I-Report lets everyday people contribute to the way events are covered. Since news crews can't be everywhere, but people with personal cameras can be, it made sense to find away to let people present their view of what's going on. Got a video you think everyone needs to see? Start at www.cnn.com/exchange to submit it. No more bugging the switchboard operator to put you in touch with the right producer. Skip trying track down the cameraman and on-site reporter at the event. You won't need to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody. Edelman's own Trust Barometer research tells us that people are eager to hear from "people like me." Mix in the fact that "massclusivity" is the catchword of the day and you have the perfect solution - people reporting news for people like them and each person being able to decide what they want to view and doing so on-demand. This is relevance taken to the nth degree. CNN, of course, says it will review all submissions and will post only a few. Apparently, they believe this "quality control" will keep the site pure. I'm not so sure. It never ceases to amaze me how often we see photos and/or videos that have been altered to lead us to believe we're seeing something that didn't really happen the way it is presented. Frankly, when I get an amazing video or photo via e-mail, I always check www.snopes.com to see if it has been validated. The site does a great job of giving the real scoop on "hard to believe" images. It will be interesting, too, to see how much of the citizen video makes into the CNN broadcast stories. They used amateur footage from the September 11 disaster and it made for better reporting, so it's entirely possible that we'll see even better coverage as a result of this new approach of inviting videos from the public. (As a bonus, CNN doesn't have to pay for the amateur footage. The videographer just gets bragging rights.) The cynic in me wonders if CNN isn't (unintentionally) creating a monster. I hope this new approach doesn't cause the PWC crowd (people with cameras) to be even more intrusive at public events, aways trying to capture a moment they can submit to the web site. What do you think? Does including "citizen journalists" add to CNN's credibility? The network is already the leader in credible news reporting (according to a Pew report, which notes that 29 percent of viewers believe most of what they see and hear from CNN). How long do you think it will be until a viewer-submitted video is "outted" for being a fake? And when (not if) that happens, will it hurt the whole concept in general?
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