This just in. “Send your story. Share your thoughts. Make your mark.” That’s what CNN’s new “Exchange” site is asking of viewers, welcoming citizen journalists to submit stories, photos and videos related to headline-making stories. Read more here and here.
The CNN Exchange content destination site is the latest example of the convergence point of “traditional” journalism, grass roots/participatory journalism and new media. With the just-announced new program, users can send in digital audio and video from breaking news events in their region – via e-mail or by uploading their reports directly from CNN's site. Submissions and news tips are then checked and followed up on by editors. "User-generated content has the potential to play a pivotal role in journalism whether it’s online or offline," said Mitch Gelman, senior vice president and executive producer for CNN.com, in a statement.
Viewers armed with home video cameras have contributed footage to news programs for years, as we all know, but the emergence of YouTube and other video sharing sites has kicked viewer contribution up a notch. With recent events (think Hurricane Katrina and the London bombings), viewers’ cellphone camera images, photos and video clips were often on the Web long before professional photographers were on the scene. The new CNN site also offers readers the chance to share their thoughts on breaking news via blogs and quick polls – even tips from producers on submitting their own content, dubbed “I-Reports.”
The added momentum behind user-submitted content reminds me how much things have changed during the last decade. When I shot some random, home video camera footage during Central California's 1997 floods, I offered the clips to a station in Boston that was producing a related documentary. I had to transfer the footage to two other formats before submitting via mail. Now, it’s as easy as uploading and sharing just moments after footage is taken.