Thursday, August 04, 2011
Top five: How iReport is shaping the future of journalism

Editor's Note: iReport, CNN's citizen journalism initiative, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting of iReport's shining moments in a series of top five posts on a variety of topics. Today, CNN.com Managing Editor Meredith Artley takes a look at some of the ways iReport is shaping the future of journalism.

 

 

Visibly reinventing how stories are told: "Open Story" was launched earlier this year and we've been testing it out to cover developing news and events that are centered around a mappable place. This is a new format and model of storytelling -- it's not just an updated article with an accompanying video or photo gallery. It's not just an interactive Google map. It's not solely done by professionals or amateurs -- an Open Story weaves together the best user generated content and the best from CNN's journalists, side by side. All of these things together create an experience larger than the sum of its parts, making a story truly participatory, truly multimedia and in a visible state of motion. It's a motorized, flying swiss army knife of journalism, or at least the beginnings of something great. The results are impressive on a broad range of stories, from the Mississippi River flooding to the Royal Wedding to SXSW.

 

 

Upping the amount of artful, global collaboration in the world: iReport's "Walk In Our Shoes" won a Webby for remixes/mashups, beating out formidable competitors who aren't even in the news category, like "The Office," because the collective work of our global audience is that good, IMHO. We asked the global iReport community to do one simple thing: Take video of a one minute walk wherever you may be. Then we edited the submissions into this artful presentation. This is true collaboration, pure creativity and you'll be seeing more projects like this from CNN.

 

 

A highly effective way to hear unique voices: For example, Johnny Colt, the tattoo-laden former bassist of the Black Crowes and a big personality in CNN's hometown of Atlanta. Johnny headed to post-quake Japan, and just look at the raw and real video that ensued. And when we asked every nation in the world to submit an iReport, the world's smallest island nation of Nauru held out. So guess who we sent to go get that final iReport?

 

Johnny is one of dozens of iReporters who are near and dear to our hearts. There’s also Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere, who never fails to photograph the goings-on in his Manhattan neighborhood, and Shari Atukorala, who takes part in nearly every creative iReport challenge from her Sri Lanka home, just to name a few.

 

 

Breaking news will never be the same: When and if you talk about citizen journalism, you'll likely hear sentiments like this: "Journalists can't be everywhere all the time" and "Everyone has camera in their pocket these days." These truisms keep on proving themselves, like in this first iReport filed of the 'Arab Spring' from Cairo on January 25. A few days later, we received this iReport showing tear gas being used on thousands of people streaming on the bridge into Tahrir Square. Or when a plane crashed into a federal building in Austin more than a year ago and we received several iReports from people in traffic on the highway (who should really not be driving while iReporting, but thanks for your submission). And then there's weather -- if it's hot, stormy, or buggy, we have perspectives on it like never before.

 

 

Making it personal: We have a saying around the CNN Digital newsroom that we aspire to connect the universal to the personal, and vice-versa. "Katrina, Then and Now" is one of our marquee projects of the past year that used photography and the perspective of people who lived through that disaster. We've used similar methods to connect the past to the present. And it can be done with stories that aren't inherently visual, like in the Economy Tracker, where we connected personal stories of iReporters as they fought their way through the larger tough economic climate, and in daily assignments where we request thoughts on news of the moment, like the passing of the debt ceiling bill. Few things can tell the national and global news stories better than personal experiences and perspectives.

5 Comments
August 4, 2011
Click to view Sherbien's profile

Great assignments. Thank you cnn ireport

August 4, 2011
Click to view Billioville's profile

The headline shud read: How AL Jazaeera is shaping journalism

August 4, 2011
Click to view RobertJapan2's profile

Ireports are the worst thing to happen to journalism and it's a shame that people don't get how evil they are.

August 8, 2011
Click to view jewc's profile

I support programs and initiatives that foster the development of great journalists and I think that iReport probably has that potential.  It's discouraging that there are relatively few members of the news media who choose to remain above the din of the so-called network talking heads. There is clearly a direct correlation between poor journalistic practices and poor government practices. When journalism turns to sound bites, government soon follows suit. We cannot change the way Washington is run until we change how it is covered.

August 10, 2011
Click to view katie's profile
@jewc We're glad you think so! We actually just launched a boot camp special that's aimed at helping iReporters become better journalists. We're looking forward to seeing the stories that iReporters decide to work on. (And you're certainly welcome to join as well!)
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