CNN’s iReport is doing it right.
I first noticed it on Instagram (largely a photo sharing social network): Anyone who “tags” cnnireport on their photos will automatically come up under a search for that tag. Often, CNN prompts users to tag (#) CNN iReport (cnnireport) when we post a photo that relates to something they’ve posted about. Sometimes, they repost those users’ photos. This helps CNN get a broader “story” and the users get a larger audience. To date, CNN iReport’s Instagram has 364 photos, 163,923 followers, and follows 5,975 other users. Most recently, a small collection of users Mother’s Day photos have been posted. The number of photos tagged #cnnireport is 6,932 as of today.
CNN is creating a social network for news by seeking content from users:
“Our hunch is that we could pull in more participation in stories if we create a more personalized experience of iReport,”— Lila King, CNN’s participation director
In addition to becoming present on already existing social media platforms, CNN iReport has created a community of their own where users can create a profile, choose interests and have a personality, follow other users, and earn awards. Depending on their interests, users can even be prompted to participate in a story.
CNN is aware of that notion of degrees of separation and is working to become present in more sister sites — after browsing some, you’ll eventually end up on the main website.
“As journalists and storytellers I think we are heading to a place where storytelling is a much more collaborative enterprise,” King says. “It is much more than a conversation, it is the actual soup-to-nuts of a story. We are all carrying cameras, we all have something to say, and I think we all increasingly have an expectation to hear our own voices and see our work reflected in the media we watch.”
Are you an iReporter?
What do you think about all the people they are laying off as a result?
The New York Times has a Facebook. So what?
Facebook, an already familiar structure to many, is a community. Within that community are countless smaller communities and the Times is one of them.
Social media platforms like FB make it easy to share content and communicate.
What’s on the NYT Facebook? Tons.
- There are the obvious posts by the Times, linking to articles and such
- People can comment on/like/share these posts
- Also, if your friends share any NYT links on Facebook, they show up here
- There are subpages (Politics | NYT, Travel | NYT) “liked” by this mother page that can be found here
- And so on.
They also use the Timeline feature to its fullest.
They can “highlight” (expand) certain events, and go back to fill in stuff from the past. Starting from when it was founded, the Times filled in major events in newspaper history and scanned in issues from those years.
Wireless Transmission Begins
October 17, 1907
The Times becomes the first newspaper to send news reports by wireless transmission when messages are delivered to its London bureau from New York.
Moving to Times Square
April 9, 1904
Longacre Square, from 42nd Street to 47th Street where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet in Manhattan, is renamed Times Square when The New York Times moves from its original Nassau Street headquarters into a new building. The Times’s headquarters now occupies a skyscraper, Times Tower, at 42nd Street and Broadway that in 1907 will become the site of the annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
It’s just cool, especially to a J-nerd like me.
USA Today is changing their brand.
Right on the home page, there is a “News from our Communities” block, featuring the latest posts from USA Today blogs.
These blogs have their own personalities and diverse content, but all link back to the main website. It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: you’re always just a few clicks away from the mother site.
Each of these blogs has a place to sign in and become a member, a place to comment on /share the posts. Eventually, BOOM. You’re back to Kevin Bacon.
The tags and links make it easy to take these conversations off the blog page to a new place to live. News stories are thriving because of the instant ability to share and talk about these things.
Citizen journalism (or user-generated content), whether it’s posted on a blog or a site like Associated Content, is responsible for being as ethical as any other news platform.
Obviously, we have a right to freely express ourselves. This idea of citizen journalism is growing, which calls for a more solid code of ethics.
Because journalists and news reporters are struggling for our attention, they sometimes forget they have a responsibility. The responsibility is to produce honest, well-researched, thought-provoking information.
There is so much information out there now and it’s easy to respond to the extreme and unbelievable before anything else.
Citizen Journalists: questions to ask yourself as you report
- Do you know what you should write about? What you should avoid?
- Think about what you’re covering — why and how are you covering it? If you can’t answer those questions, maybe it’s not your story to cover (“Because it happened” might not cut it).
- Do you have a unique perspective on the event? You don’t want to just repeat what has already been said. Are you adding something new to the story?
- Does my story generate debate/discussion?
- Am I creating a historical/political/social analysis of the event?
- What’s your angle? Do you have a local advantage? CJ is all about adding that factor.
Know your reason for writing and write
with taste, sympathy, compassion, and a sense of propriety. Only when citizen journalists have defined their intent, acknowledged the need for ethics, and keep the victims in the forefront of their minds, citizen journalism will retain its integrity.
Just know that ethics in journalism exist at all levels of reporting. For more on this, see here.
The Guardian’s Open Journalism
This video depicts a dramatic situation between the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. As the traditional media cover the events, the world responds.
Following the arrest of the pigs for the murder of the wolf:
“This isn’t right. The three little pigs are the victims”
“The wolf blew down two houses, he got what he deserved”
“The Pigs went too far #opennews”
“You have every right to defend your property #opennews”
“Keep your chinny chin chins up fellas”
Texts that appear journalistic pose questions like “Is killing an intruder ever justified?” A poll reveals that a large majority say yes.
“If someone tried to blow my house down I’d do the same #opennews”
More media is brought in to the situation. A YouTube video showing the security camera on a public bus shows that the wolf is asthmatic and uses an inhaler. This changes the story— did he really blow down the houses?
More news articles are published on the issue. Was it an inside job?
A “Huff and Puff simulation” prove that not even a healthy wolf COULD have blown down the houses.
Eventually, the pigs confess to conspiring and committing insurance fraud, framing the wolf in an attempt to cover their tracks. “Their motive was financial as they struggled to keep up with their mortgage payments.”
The public continues to speak out:
“I can empathize”
“I’m behind on my payments too”
“How could this have happened?”
“I’ve lost everything”
Then, riots against the banks ensue. People gather and band together against capitalism. Some wear pig masks.
The riots “spark reform debate,” suggesting that the collection of voices contributing to the whole picture are enough to make change.
This is what journalism is becoming.
There is a new, communal ethos of social networking as news gathering.
Essentially, CJ is where people who don’t have professional journalism training can create, add to, or fact-check media using what has become standard technology.
Because of the availability of small cameras and phones that can record at a moment’s notice, the “average” person can make/distribute news instantly and globally.
The term citizen journalism tends to bother some people because many believe only professionals understand the rigors and ethics involved in reporting news.
There are also professionals who use media platforms that might be considered CJ, like blogs and other commentary, outside of the regular J-world.
The idea of CJ is the inclusiveness of more than the mainstream story. There is so much more information that fills in around the center of a subject where a collective audience can add to a sole reporter’s knowledge.
Many news sites are catching wind of this and taking full advantage by encouraging input.
…important milestones in the recent history of citizen journalism include eyewitness bloggers in Iraq such as Salam Pax giving stunningly detailed early accounts of the war. Plus, at the 2004 U.S. political conventions, bloggers were given press passes for the first time. Later, in 2005, the earliest photos on the scene of the London bombings on July 7 were taken by ordinary citizens with their cameraphones. Mainstream media sites run by the BBC and MSNBC accepted photos, video and text reports — a practice that continues to this day among many major broadcasters. Citizen journalists and bloggers also helped in the worldwide reaction and relief efforts to the tsunami and flooding in Southeast Asia in late 2004 and to damage wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S. in 2005.
The terms citizen journalism and citizen journalist are not popular among traditional journalists CJs themselves anymore because they aren’t very accurate (Aren’t reporters also citizens? If you’re not a legal resident, is your work invalidated?). In fact, there are many terms that lend themselves to this idea of non-professional news reporting:
The New West website has chosen to use the term “Unfiltered” for its citizen journalism contributions, and runs the following instructions for people to contribute: “Don’t let the ‘citizen journalism’ title scare you. Your post doesn’t have to be a structured article. It can be a rant, a rave, a rhyme, a short comment, a novel — anything you feel like writing. We just want to hear what’s on your mind.”
Others have suggested different terms for CJ:
bottom-up journalism [check question #6]
Max Kalehoff, an executive at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, wrote this comment on Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog on a post about changing the term citizen journalism to networked journalism:
Why not just call journalism “journalism” — a word the citizens, amateurs, networks, distributors and professionals can understand? Journalism can be “practiced” in all sorts of ways, and by virtually anyone. You don’t even have to be a citizen or a professional; you could be a foreigner, or even an alien from outer space. But I do agree with your overall beat: journalism is not some exclusive club; it’s something that takes many forms, including all the ones you describe.
To learn more about citizen journalism, check out the following websites, articles and blogs:
Citizen Media Cookbook by Hartsville Today [PDF file; requires Acrobat Reader]
A few prominent citizen media sites:
The blog’s role in journalism is becoming ever-significant where voices of all kinds of people live.
From independent writers to established news publications, almost everyone has a blog. These social media platforms act as a soapbox for people who have something to say.
These blogs also act as communities where users can level with each other and have conversations with others who share the interest.
Web writing style is different from print. However, both need to have a consistent style.
I think that credibility factors in here. Even without being conscious of it, readers will notice sloppiness.
The other reason is that using a style can help your text/information look cleaner. A publication that knows how to display its information is going to get more traffic than one that doesn’t.
Think about PowerPoint: there are rules. If you want people to gain anything from your slideshow, you have to follow those rules. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and energy:
- Not too much text
- a readable sans serif font
- and a large text size
are just a few. There are also tons of design rules that will benefit a slideshow.
It’s usually about simplicity and the same goes for websites. When navigation is easy and the piece looks professional, the site is much more likely to succeed.
…and keep them coming back for more.
What’s in it for them? Make it worth a user’s time.
Satisfying online readers is much different than satisfying the traditional reader. Because the medium can offer more, audiences demand more.
The Web is immediate and infinite. Why shouldn’t we give them more? For newspapers and other online publications, it’s sink or swim. If you don’t make it in the digital world, you’ll eventually go under.
People are so concerned about print dying. But newspapers are NOT becoming obsolete, not even close.
Fewer papers are being printed, sure. But all of this online business is supplemental, not detrimental.
The world is moving everything to the Internet. Pictures, live video, even money disappears into thin air and travels between machines. The world demands digital. Journalism is evolving, just like everything else.
How essays, long writing, and text-intensive stories/articles are presented successfully online.
Organizing info in lists — knowing what kind of info lends itself to lists.
Using hyperlinks to organize information, facilitate navigation, and increase usability.
And sub-headlines and sub-sub-headlines.
What it means to have an instant, global audience and how to be sensitive to that.
Planning/organizing/testing content for the interactive audience
Not just info -> reader
Where the content lives should rule how the content looks.
Interactive, multimedia pages.