Ever since the birth of reality television and the subsequent rise of Web 2.0 technologies, user-generated content has become more popular. So popular in fact, that the news is now relying on it.
CNN announced that its ever-popular iReport is expanding itself in hopes of becoming the YouTube of cable news. While iReport has been around since 2006 and has received more than 100,000 news-related photo and video submissions, CNN rarely uses more than 10 percent of the content in its newscasts. That is of course because they've needed to check each story out for accuracy and other pesky newsy type information.
But no more...CNN has launched iReport.com, a new Web site built entirely on user-produced news. Yes, that's right. News generated by you, the hapless citizen reporter will reign. And even better, the new site will be wide open, allowing users to post whatever content they choose.
Much like YouTube, visitors can upload videos, photos and audio files through "an easy-to-use interface". Visitors to the site can search for specific clips or sift through various news categories as well as rate, share and embed clips.
Much like American Idol, CNN is hopeful that by allowing users to upload their news "the community will decide what the news is". Time will only tell if this is a good idea or not.
CNN relied upon user-generated content during a few breaking news events recently and found that average citizens had much better access to places that journalists did not. So naturally they decided to exploit it -- for good or for bad -- with risk of the latter as the network claims that "iReport will be completely unvetted," except for the usual monitoring of questionable content.
There's no indication of who owns the content after it's been submitted, but I'm sure CNN has that figured out. Although one should never doubt the power and prowess of open source technologies, the iReport initiative seems to hint of desperation.
This is either an indication that the news industry is hard pressed to find credible sources and is not well-equipped to determine the newsworthiness of its stories or they are very certain that the wisdom of crowds will lead them not into temptation, but instead toward a successful integration of citizen and traditional journalism.