Monday, July 31, 2006

CNN To Offer User Provided News

I've lost count of the derisive phrases aimed at America's press world - usually labels created by those who are lucky enough to have nationwide distribution. Even hatchet-man/PR spinning dervish Karl Rove said last week that the problem in America is those darned reporters whose works "corrode" the political world. Of course! It isn't the actions of those elected, but those who report on what the elected do that's the problem. Yeesh.

In a rural community like the one I call home, news is controlled by a single agency and woe to those who attempt to provide more information or different views. The less the people know, the better for that agency. Events which go unreported are soon dismissed as "mindless gossip", and the public's right to know becomes a minor matter.

In general, small town media has little interest in community debate and more interest in filling columns with wire reports from across the nation. Hopefully, those days are fading fast.

I think it's obvious the ever-growing blogging community has taken the reins, presenting not just news and information, but accounts of personal experiences. And plenty of editorializing on events local and global. I'm happy to be a part of this new enterprise.

Now cable news is moving past the frequent "what are the bloggers saying" segments to offering anyone with the tech equipment and internet access a chance to add their own reports.

On Tuesday, CNN will announce the creation of a "citizen journalism" division.

What we'’re doing with the Exchange, and I-Reports in particular, is creating a single vehicle, a simple branded environment in which people are going to be able to more consistently and easily participate in the news,"” says Mitch Gelman, senior VP/executive producer for

With its streamlined uploading function, CNN Exchange represents a more ambitious commitment to citizen journalism than has existed to date. Although broadcast news divisions and cable news networks have dabbled in incorporating viewer video into newscasts for the past year, none have as sophisticated a Website."

One of the problems I have with the phrase "citizen journalism" is that it implies a working journalist is not a citizen.

Thanks to a more widespread access to the online world, I've seen a true change taking place - more people are writing and reading and sharing their life experiences. And already, many news organizations have opened up to the blog writers with eager acceptance (like WKRN-TV blogs and No Silence Here at the KNS.

An online writer needs no corporate endorsement to achieve their goals - but corporations are starting to need those writers more and more.


  1. I must say, Joe, I'm not sure that blog style news should be the way of the future for the same reason that I think that the standard media went to seed when it started paying attention to polls and surveys.
    Too much damn noise.

  2. Brother Mike3:13 PM

    So, let me get this straight. Instead of paying people to go out and report on what's happening, they are going to reduce costs by relying on amateurs to report the news?

    Isn't like that all those college professors who get their students to do the research so the professor can write a book?

  3. I agree AT - I don't want to see blog styles replace other news coverage. Polls and surveys are too easily altered to fit a predetermined message.

    I do hope one influence of blog noise is to encourage a better effort in the news media in general.

    But oh yes too much damn noise and little worth all the hoopla. One aspect of a bad/inacurate blog post is that corrections or expanded info is demanded pretty fast.

    As I said, I'm just glad to see more interest in not only reading but in writing. This internets stuff is still in very early stages and I hope (foolishly?) standards will grow and not devolve to self-referential shorthand.

    Not sure if I'm being optimistic or delusional, however. (A comment I left on a blog recently drew derision for my daring to use a word like "obfuscate", which the derider was unable to spell in said derision.)

  4. Mike - um .. yeah, money is a motivator since news is a biz. Cheapness is surely a goal as the rates paid a reporter are pathetically low, unless yer a talkin' purty face like Katie Couric - the highest paid "newsperson' in the biz - or a ham-fisted rabble-rouser like O'Reilly, Hannity, etc and that low-rent exploiter named nancy whatever on Headline News.

    Since an easy 30 second video can be captured by cell phone, the 'business' of news is scrambling for more immediacy and relevance.

    Will freebies from the non-professional drive wages even lower? Time will tell.