Television

User generated content builds on CNN

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MUMBAI: When news broadcaster CNN first invited its global audience to submit their own pictures and video of the news of the day via cell phones, cameras and other devices, the first i-Reports offered included a photograph of bomb damage in Israel, a portrait of a U.S. soldier in Iraq and an image of a squirrel coping with a heat wave in the U.S. Midwest.

One year later, CNN's i-Report has garnered more than 50,000 submissions from 189 countries and territories around the world, ranging from compelling to light-hearted to tragic to amazing. CNN's citizen journalism initiative now pulls in an average of about 7,000 i-Reports each month.

CNN Worldwide executive VP content development and strategy Susan M. Bunda says, "With i-Report, CNN tapped into the needs and desires of its audience to express a deeper connection to the news they get from our networks and services each and every day. Our i-Reporters have exceeded our expectations in regards to the sheer number and quality of submissions."

Launched in August 2006, CNN's i-Reports experienced growth within the first few months as both on-air and online audiences found a new way to express themselves and to share their own observations about CNN news coverage and events around the world. Hundreds submitted i-Reports after Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died in September 2006. Later that month, when a coup in Thailand attempted to halt the flow of information with the shutdown of the national media, i-Reports ensured that photographs and text were seen by the rest of the world.

CNN adds that its i-Report created an impression upon viewers on the morning of the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy in April, particularly when graduate student Jamal Albarghouti captured dramatic video on his cell phone. CNN received about 420 submissions within 24 hours of the incident, and more than 600 in total.

More recently, users shared their video, images and thoughts after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis on 1 August. To date, CNN has received more than 600 i-Reports related to that incident.

In addition to CNN/U.S. and CNN.com, networks and services across CNN Worldwide employ the submissions on a regular basis. CNN International and CNN en Español made extensive use of user-generated materials for coverage of recent protests in Venezuela. Taking the i-Reports as a cue, Headline News developed the first cable news program comprised of user-generated video with News To Me. Launched in May and hosted by award-winning actor/producer Eric Lanford, News to Me airs on Headline News each Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (ET).

Viewers submit i-Report material through a "Send Your i-Report" link at CNN.com or by e-mail at ireport@cnn.com. Submitted material undergoes the same extensive vetting process CNN employs for all content that goes on air or online.

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