Two years after inviting CNN’s global audience to contribute pictures and video of the news of the day, the network’s hugely successful iReport initiative has brought in more than 175,000 videos and photos in its history, nearly 125,000 coming within the second year alone.
The untimely death of Bernie Mac, a solar eclipse in Siberia, the conflict between Georgia and Russia conflict and Michael Phelps’ record-breaking eighth Olympic gold medal were among the most recent of the hundreds of topics that moved CNN’s viewers to capture their own takes on the news as iReport celebrates its second anniversary.
“With iReport, CNN wanted to engage viewers who have a desire to follow and participate in the news, and our iReporters have exceeded our expectations in both the quality and quantity of their submissions over the last two years,” said Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services. “Sometimes the iReports we receive are first images of breaking news and often exhibit powerful points of view on issues or news events. But every day our iReporters show an enthusiasm for and pride in the community they have created.”
With a 176 percent rise in photo and video contributions since the same time last year, CNN’s user-generated content initiative now generates an average of nearly 15,000 iReports each month. iReport has proved to be an exceptionally powerful newsgathering tool for the network and is incorporated into reporting across multiple networks and platforms each day, including CNN/U.S., CNN.com, Headline News, CNN International and CNN en Español.
The watershed moment for CNN’s iReport occurred on the morning of the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy in April 2007, when graduate student Jamal Albarghouti captured dramatic video on his cell phone. Since then, more and more iReports have been incorporated into the network’s coverage. For example, nearly 50 percent of content submitted regarding the California wildfires and the U.S. Midwest floods were vetted for use on CNN networks and platforms.
In February 2008, CNN offered users a new online platform to express themselves as well as share their own observations about CNN news coverage through the launch of iReport.com, the network’s first uncensored, unfiltered, unedited, user-generated community Web site. The site has established a community of news consumers commenting on the news of the day, as well as a venue for them to become active participants as news happens. With more than 85,000 registered “iReporters,” iReport.com attracts 2.3 million unique users each month and generates 7.1 million views per month. (Source: Nielsen Online).
As proof positive of CNN’s dedication to user-generated coverage, on-air programs often solicit questions to pose to newsmakers and guests via iReport.com. iReporters have been featured on The Situation Room where selected questions have been answered by presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, and newsmakers such as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Every weekday morning, Morning Express with Robin Meade features iReports during the “Salute to Troops” segment, wherein family, friends, and sometimes even US military personnel themselves send iReport salutes to U.S. military serving their country away from home.
iReport.com also provided an outlet for users to join in conversations about stories of personal travail and triumph related to events including World Autism Day and the network’s critically acclaimed Black in America series, which alone generated more than 1,400 submissions to iReport.com since the launch of the series in April 2008.
Just as CNN asks its real-life audience to submit iReports, the network invites the residents of Second Life, a three-dimensional virtual world entirely created by its residents, to share their own “SL iReports” about events occurring within the virtual world. CNN.com has received content that has included not only snapshots of interesting locations within Second Life but also in-depth analysis of social issues and stories that parallel the real world.
CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.