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Gatekeeping and Citizen Journalism : A Qualitative Examinatio n of Participatory Newsgathering by Amani Channel A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Mass Communications Colleg e of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Randy Miller, Ph.D. Kenneth Killebrew, Ph.D. Roxanne Watson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 2, 2010 Keywords: Web 2.0, social media, user generated content, iReport, CNN Copyright 2010 Amani Channel
Dedication This paper is dedicated to my loving wife Daphne who supported me throughout this process. It is also dedicated to the many scholars and researchers who have used scientific inquiry to understand how the media and communications affect our society. Finally, this paper is dedicated to my father Charlie and mother Jan, who taught me to learn something new every day, ask questions, and seek the truth.
i Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter One Introduction 1 C hapter Two Literature Review 4 Public Jou rnalism to Citizen Journalism 4 Convergence Media 6 The Internet and Newsgathering 9 Gatekeeping 1 1 1 3 Chapter Three Methodology 1 6 Disclosures 1 7 Description of the Sample 1 8 Chapter F our Findings 20 Internal Organizational Challenges 24 Community Challenges 25 Benefits 27 Breaking News 28 Alternative Sources and New Angles 28 Witnesses and Guests 28 Chapter Five Discussion 3 8 Chapter Six Conclusion 4 3 References 4 9 Appendices 54 Appendix A: Questionnaire 5 5 Appendix B: Respondent Interviews 5 6
ii Gatekeeping and Citizen Journalism A Qualitative Examinatio n of Participatory Newsgathering Amani Channel ABSTRACT For nearly sixty years, scholars have studied how information is selected, v etted, and shared by news organizations. The process, known as gatekeeping is an enduring mass communications theory that describes the process by which news is gathered and filtered to audiences. It has been suggested, however, that in the wake of onli ne communications the traditional function of media gatekeeping is changing. The infusion of citizen gathered media into news programming is resulting in what some call a paradigm shift. As mainstream news outlets adopt and encourage public participation, it is important that researchers have a greater understanding of the theoretical implications related to participatory me dia and gatekeeping This study will be among the first to examine the adoption of citizen journalism by a major cable news network. journalism online news community called iReport, which allows the public to share and subm it Vetted submissions that are deemed newsworthy can then be o n CNN.com. This journalism practice appears to follow the thoughts of Nguyen (2006), critical gate keepers but also act as listeners, discussion and forum leaders/mediators in the paper is to lay a foundation for understanding how participatory m edia is
iii utilized by a news network to help researchers possibly devel op new models and hypotheses related to gatekeeping the ory
1 Chapter One Introduction Within the last decade or so, scholars and writers have observed, predicted, and attempted to understand how mass communications theory is affected by technology and the Internet (December, 1996; Bruns, 2007; Bruns 2008). More specifically, some have observed that the news has become more participatory. Some organizations now gather content from the public and integrate it into the coverage ( Nguy en, 2006; Singer, 2006 ; Storm, 2007 ; Domingo et al. 2008 ; Bakker & Pa nt t i, 2 009 ). It is only appropriate then that scholars m ake a concer ted effort to develop new theories related to the shift from traditional to new media (Morris & Ogan 1996; Scott, 2005; Dailey, Demo & Spillman, 2005) which is marked by a free flow of informa tion, and driven by technology like computers, cell phones, and the Internet. (Beard & Olsen, 1999; Scott, 2005 ; Gordon, 2007; Bruns, 2008). Some have suggested that society is witnessing the end of mass communications (Chaffee & Mertzger, 2001). Morris & Ogan (1996) observe that the Internet presents new opportunities to advance mass communications theory, while Friedland (1996) speculates that a new electronic democracy that gives greater opportunity for public discourse is imminent, and Bruns (2006) su ggests that a paradigm shift is under way. Though time and thought have been given to understanding the effects that digital media is having in relation to traditional media and journalism (Singer, 2001; Willis & Bowman, 2003; Williams & Delli Carpini, 2004 ; Gilmor, 2004; Scott, 2006; Nguyen, 2006; Singer; 2006), scholars have yet to establish new theories regarding new media. They have however identified gaps in research related to gatekeeping theory ( Beard & Olsen, 1999), newsroom adoption (Boczkowski, 20 04), and participa tory media (Bruns, 2008). This study therefore, seeks to
2 answer the question: how is the adoption of participatory media in a network news organization affecting gatekeeping? For nearly sixty years scholars have studied how informa tion is selected, vetted, gathered, and shared by reporters and news organizations (White, 1950; Shoemaker 1991; Livingston & Bennett, 2003). The process known as gatekeeping is an enduring mass communication theory that describes the processes involved i n gathering, filtering, and distributing news content (White, 1950; Berkowitz, 1990; Beard & Olsen, 1999; Storm, 2007). It has been suggested however, that in the w traditional gatekeeping processes are changing. journalists (or anyone else) can or should limit what passes through it (p 265). Other scholars speculate that the function of media entities will ch ange from collecting information to directing it (Bardoel, 1996). Bruns (2003) presents a similar thought, suggesting that the emerging online news environment is made up of open communities where anyone can add to the collective knowledge, and asserts th at gatekeeping theory is transforming into a gatewatching function, where journalism organizations use the Internet to direct reade rs or viewers to information that they may be interested Some scholars are working to understand how newsrooms are adaptin g to new media (Boczkowski, 2004; Bakker & Pa nt t i, 2009; Dueze, Bruns & Newbu r ger, 2007; Domingo et al. 2008 ) and the phenomena of participatory media that is resulting in what some call a paradigm shift (Bruns, 2006 ; Jenkins, 2006 ). As mainstream news ou tlets adopt and encourage citizen participation, it is important that researchers have a greater understanding of the theoretical implications related to participatory media and mainstream news adoption. This qualitative study will be among the first to e xamine user generated content and its a doption in a converged network news oper ation. It will analyze interviews with wh ich allows the public to share ntent t o CNN. Some
3 of it is then vetted and broadcasted and featured on CNN.com (Dube, 2008). This participatory model appears to follow the thoughts train ed to not only become more critical gate keepers but also to act as listeners discussion and forum leaders/mediators in an intimate interaction with their will help advance empirical models that are being developed around c onvergence and participatory media ( Boczkowski, 2004 ; Dailey, Demo, & Spillman 2005; Bakker & Pa nt t i, 2009 ). It begins with an examination of the literature surrounding citizen journ alism, and gatekeeping theory, It will then present the argument why this qua litative study is needed to advance gatekeeping theory and then explain the research methodology.
4 Chapter Two Literature Review Technology, computers, and the Internet have facilitated an undeniable medi a shift that is changing the way news is gathered, with one result being the phenomena of participatory news (Singer, 2006; Deuze, Bruns & Neuberger, 2007, Gordon, 2007). This is a melding of public participation that involves bloggers who break news on i ndependent websites, and citizen s who capture news worthy events with cell phone cameras This material is often referred to as user generated content, and Websites like YouTube and Wikipedia, allow people to easily distribute and share it (van Dijck, 2009) Scott (2005) provides a comprehensive analysis of the changing digital journalism landscape by documenting challenges brought about by technology. He suggests that the Internet has been very disruptive to traditional media ne 93). This response includes adopting practices that now includes news gathered from the public, which is commonly referred to as citizen journalism, participatory publishing, or open publishing to mention a few of the terms (Nguyen, 2006). Public Journalism to Citizen Journalism As some news organizations adopt new participatory practices that include reporting content gathered from the public, a few journalism activists have wor ked toward a more community oriented media. Known as public newsgathering process (Nip, 2006). Within the public journalism model, public discussion and involve ment allow individ uals in the community to directly influence and benefit from news coverage (Witt, 2004). The emergence of this
5 movement was a result of observations that newspaper readership was declining; that there was a growing gap between the citizenry and journalis ts, and that there was a growing dissatisfaction in the population regarding the news work of those involved in the public journalism movement, it made little impact on day to day news operations (Witt, 2004). The news industry, however is now experiencing great change. Nip (2006) suggests that the second phase of public journalism is here, and identifies five separate models that exist, being: traditional journalism, public journalism, interactive journalism, participatory journalism, and citizen journalism. The definitio ns are as follows (pp. 216 218): 1) Traditional Journalism In traditional journalism, pr ofessional journalists act as the gatekeepers, filtering, and rep orting on world events. The only public involvement is from news sources that provide information, and opinion to the journalists. Interaction from the public comes from letters to the editor, or complaints made after the news is published. 2) Public Journa li sm Public journalism attempts to engage c itizens in both the news making and in the news consumption process. Journalists use town hall meetings, and polls to understand community concerns, and provide feedback to the citizenry in an attempt to help c reate discussions to reach solutions. The professional journalists maintain their traditional role as gatekeeper, in framing and presentation. 3) Interactive Journalism Interactive journalism is a concept that has been discussed by scholars but has not be en clearly defined. It refers to communication and news consumption that is facilitated through the Internet. Content interactivity allows users to select the stories they read, and interpersonal interactivity allows the public to become engaged with the reporters. However, this only happens when the reporter responds to e mails, chats, or communicates in online forums.
6 4) Participatory Journalism Participatory journalism allows news users to take an active part in the news gathering process, and work wit h journalism professionals to distribute the content. Users create the content independently, but the outlet provides the platform to publish it. 5) Citizen Journalism Within this mode, independent news content is generated, and produced by a non professio nal individual or organization that is not paid staff. Examples of citizen journalism include blogs, independent news websites, community radio stations, or newspapers. O ther writers like Jarvis (2006) have proposed alternative definitions related to part icipatory media He calls it networked journalism, which explains how professional and amateurs work together to share facts, questions, and perspectives to ge t to the real story. These amateurs are often said to be a part of Generation C. They produce (Trendwatching, 2005). The C in this case refers to content define a demographic group, but rather identifies individuals who participate in the creation and distrib ution of information. Though there are specific dif ferences in all of the aforementioned definitions, this paper is not at tempting to analyze the various terms used to describe participatory newsgathering, but rather will examine how a mainstream news ne twork gathers, selects, and integrates user generated news into its online news site and broadcast programs. Convergence Media Livingston and Bennett (2003) argue that as communications technologies open new gates, new studies will be needed to measure ch anges in gatekeeping, and in turn, develop new theories. These new technologies include cell phones with cameras that anyone can use to capture and s hare newsworthy images with the media (Gordon, 2007). Interactivity, convergence, cross media, and produs age are terms used to describe the fundamental changes that have be en taking place in the media
7 Interactivity is more of a bu zzword in digital media studies and is most often used to explain the process by which people engage in communication over the In ternet (Cover, 2006). Boczkowski (2004) defines interactivity as the to many, and one to one communication spaces such as forums, chat rooms, and user authored site s in addition to the one to many mode of increasing opp boundaries of time and place, and between journalists and citizens (p. 384), while Cover (2006) simply states trol of t he narrative content in a Convergence describes the melding of media on an organizational, technological, or production level (Erdal, 2007). It usually involves newsrooms that have consolidated news gathering operations across different platforms whether it is print, broadcast, or the W eb. Scott (2005) suggests that convergence is related to the economics of content production and distribution. He asserts that mainstream operations are implement ing newsroom convergence cross media partnerships, and digital news networks in an effort to remain economically viable. Others like Dailey, Demo, and Spillman (2005), suggest that the weakness with convergence is that it lacks a general definition, and that it is constantly ch anging as TV stations and newspaper organizations create partnerships. Crossmedia production more specifically explains the different ways that producers or organizations share and distribute media a cross platforms. Dailey, Demo, and Spillman (2005) identi fy the va rious modes of crossmedia, that include, cross promotion (promotion of content by media partners; e.g. a TV station and newspaper), cloning (re publishing content with little editing), cooperation (news organizations both compete and collaborate), content sharing (sharing of content by partners), and full convergence (partners gather and share the news together). Bruns (2008b) suggests that the collaboration, creativity, and more
8 community oriented media production are part of a paradigm shift th at he calls produsage Examples of produsage include blogs, wikis, and citizen journalism communities. It follows the peer to peer and many to many content distribution model, and the open source nature of knowledge building through the crea tion of onlin e content. Bruns These produsers engage not in a traditional form of content production, but are instead involved in produsage the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further imp Though Bruns has made an effort to develop, and explain the functional characteristics related to participatory media, he suggests that there are challenges in both mains tream adoption and in its theoretical development (Bruns, 2008c). Several studies have laid groundwork for this current study. Erdal (2007) argues that the digitization of media has fundamentally changed the way broadcast news is produced, giving broadcasters the ability to produce content for TV radio and the W eb. Boczkowski (2004) focuses on the processes used by news workers in the adoption of new technologies. The ethnographic study involved an examination of th ree online newspapers to explore how gatekeeping tasks shape multimedia and interactive adoption. The author concludes that media organizations engage in multimedia adoption differently depending upon the organizational structures, work practices, and the users representation. Dailey, Dem o, and Spillman (2005) develop a conceptual approach toward studyi ng newsroom convergence. The mo del proposed is called a convergence continuum and defines the methods of identifying the different genres of crossmedia. In addition, t hey propose a research method to measure gatekeep ing and news partnerships. The author s do not attempt to test the method though qualitative and quantitative methodologies are suggested. Domingo et al. (2008) designed a study to test the degree to which online international and domestic newspapers are adopting participatory news gathering practices. The research design included a model that tests if the public i s given access to share content; how the sect ion and filtering process works; the amount of processing or editing o f the content; how the content is distributed; and if the
9 public is allowed to interact with features such as commenting. The authors conclude that the model successfully described the strategies of news organizations regarding participatory media, yet the results indicate that most of the journalism outlets do not all ow significant amount of participation from the public. Finally Baaker & Pantti (2009 ) qualitatively examine how amateur photography is being used by ma instream news organizations. Twenty i nterviews were used to collect the data across a variety of print and broadcast news organizations. The results yielded beneficial insights regarding overall trends, attitudes, and adoption practices. Fewer studies have examined television news organizations. Bruns (2008c) makes the following observation about the technological shift and TV. What becomes obvious here is that the technologies and processes of television once constituting an effective and powerful network for widespread content distribution have now been outclassed by the Internet, to the point that in the absence of significant innovation on part of television operators, many users themselves have begun to do the In other words, the Internet challenges traditional news operations, and media consumers are now empowered to share content themselves In light of this shift, this paper is investigating how a news network is integrating user generated content into its news product. The Internet & News g athering The Interne t has played a central role in the growth of news that is produced by non traditional journalists. Example s include the DrudgeReport.com W ebsite wh ich broke the Monica Lewinsky/ President Clinton scandal in January 1998. Williams and Delli Capini (2000) suggest that it represented erosion in recently, big news events seem to cause a strong supply and demand for citizen produced photos, text, and video that is commonly shared on the Internet (Du, 2007). He argues that the Internet enables sources other than mainstream news
10 to become alternative news providers. The author observes that, from the four y ear span that marked the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to the Iraq War, and the Hurricane Katrina Disa ster, the Internet became a significant source of information for consumers. In addition citizen journalists seem to have a stronger voice during major disast ers like the London train terr orist bombings (Sambrook, 2005) and the Virginia Tech shooting (Clairmont, 2007). They also capture and share content on the Web that is deemed newsworthy and is then picked up by media outlets (Lizza, 2006) Mainstream new s outl ets have realized the power participation in newsgathering. WABC New York news d irector Kenny Plotnic News outlets that include the BBC, public broadca s ting stations, and Websites like the Korean based OhmyNews are leveraging the collective knowledge of the public to create news content (Neiman Reports, 2005). Some writers, however, have been critical of so called journalism produced by amateurs (Hazinsk i, 2008). Brown (2005) maintains that citizen journalism is in no way professional journalism and notes the following differ ence : Traditional journalists are required to adhere to standards that incl ude accuracy and fact checking, while citizens have no obligation or requirement to do so. That being said, some writers have suggest ed that citizen journalism has gone mainstream (Catone, 2007) and have welcomed the open nature of communications that has emer ged. Friedland (1996) predicted that society is on the cusp of an electronic democracy that promotes public deliberation and discussion. Bardoel (1996) speculated that traditional media would change from information g athering to directing the flow o f informa tion, while Hermes (2006) argued that communi cation technologies will the popularity of user generated content will create a community of better listeners. It is a welcomed development for c ritics of traditional media w ho have noted that investigative news reports, iss ues of diversity, and community related stories hav e been replaced by infotainment and sensationalism (Scott, 2005).
11 Even though news outlets appear to be making efforts to engage the public, and includ e more voices, the research suggests that scholars are just beginning to understand the greater implications for professional journalism and mass communications theory (Domingo et al., 2008). Nguyen (2006) asserts that lecture to a conversation, listening and talking to the public rather than remaining a closed stubborn profession that has long 2). Some professional journalism organizations appear to be more ope n to including conten t from amateurs (Bakker and Pa n tti, 2009) This paper therefore is examining how participatory newsgathering is possibly changing gatekeeping in a converged news operation. Having traced the emergence of citizen produced news, i t will now examine gatekeeping theory and explain ing the research methodology for this study. Gatekeeping Within journalism studies, gatekeeping is the daily process by which the many messages in the world are reduced by news decisi on makers and shared with the public (Shoemaker, 1991). Singer (1998) argues that gatekeeping is well suited to study how online journalists select newsworthy stories. In a recent defies the whole notion of a that journalists (or anyone giving att ention to how new media and participatory practices are affecting gatekeepin g activities (Beard & Olsen, 1999; Singer, 2006; Bakker & Pa n t ti, 2009). Before delving into how gatekeeping may be affected in this digital realm, a historical theoretical perspective will be considered. Gatekeeping has a history of longe vity in jour nalism studies dating back to 1947 when psychologist Kurt Lewin noted that information flows through the gate and tha t individuals control what makes it through the gate (Lewin, 1947). David Manning White (1950) was the first researcher to apply gatekee ping to is
12 seminal case study, White examined the process of selecting news stories over a seven day period to determine what criteria was used to choose or reject stories for publ ication. During the period of data collection, Mr. Gates wrote down the decisions to be highly subjective. The top reason for rejecting a wire story was because the news item was n ot interesting, however reasons such a also led to the ir rejection In addition, the author used a short survey to glean additional insights into the decision making process. White concludes that the gatekeeping process refle cts the psychological phenomenon Gates in making his news decisions allowed news to pass thro ugh the gate that reflected what he believed to be culturally true. Since that study, researchers have found that along with personal and and communication technologies all pl ay a role in the news selection process (Livingston & Bennett, 2003). Additionally, in broadcast newsroom s, gatekeeping activities are dictated by daily deadline pres sures and the ability to capture visual video elements (Harmon, 1989). Studies have als o considered how communication technologies like the Internet affect gatekeeping (Beard & Olsen, 1999), while other scholars have more recently focused on the ef fect the Internet and citizen produced content is having on journalism (Storm, 2007; Bakker & P aanti, 2009). Singer (2001) noted th at print journalists could be relinquishing their traditional gatekeeping roles because the Internet empowers the readers to decide what is newsworthy, and Singer (2004) subsequently found that online newspapers were ad opting participatory newsgathering practices that included blogs from both editors, and the public, as well as from discussion boards. The studies suggest that online editors could be stepping outside of their traditional gatekeeping roles by giving users a voice in the news product. More recently Bruns ( 2008) asserts that the era of open news i s here. In open news, producers, and consumers intera ct together in the distribution and creation of
13 information. In her investigation into citi zen produced news Storm (2007) provides some insights into how a print and online paper called Bluffton Today integrated public media. Although the organization allowed community input on the online site, she found that little Web generated content is ever printed in the generated user content at Bluffton Today generated user content is not published in its newspaper as a new dimension of credible journalism, but rather is used by the nal journalists to add breadth to their own work Storms (2007, p. 22). In other words information submitted by the public is not used as news content, but the contributors are used as news sources Bakker and Pant ti (2009) provide relevant insi ghts regarding the adoption of amateur content by professional ne ws outlets. This study examines broadcast, print, and online outlets in the Netherlands that utilized user generated content. The authors in general found a lack of standard practices and little to no agreeme nt on how the outlets used user generated content across platforms. While one of the main perceived benefits was the community building that occurred when the public was allowed to share its media, another notable finding audience members are increasing taking on or which is given to them (p. 485). In general, few studies have examined how network news organizations are adapting to technology and participato ry news. S ome have focused on gatekeeping and the Internet (Beard & Olsen, 1999 ), but studies have primarily cente red on print news or online outlets ( Singer, 2001; S inger, 2006; Storm, 2007) help delineate how user genera ted news is integrated into a network news operation. This paper will utilize in depth interviews in a s to lay groundwork tha t could help researchers develop new hypothesis and mod els related to gatekeeping, as well as parti cipatory newsgathering. Before explaining t he research methods that were used in this study, a brief background of
14 CNN started so liciting and featuring audience gathered content in 2006 under the iReport brand. During the first phase of implem entation, approximately ten percent of the news related ph otos and video were featured on air or on CNN.com after being carefully reviewed by journalists. In February 2008, CNN launched an online community dedicated to gathering un mo derated user generate d content. The Website explained ed to build an online community; help the network gauge what people consider to be news; and em pow er the community to drive news conversations CNN continues to use iReports on air, and on CNN.com once newsworthy reports are vetted. Trained journalists are charged with verifying the authenticity of news reports and events submitted by the pub lic befo re any clips are aired (Dube, 2007). One of the most notable iRepor ts occurred on April 2007 when Virginia Tech student Jamal Alburghouti shared video captured on his cell phone camera of the worst shooting massacre on a college campus in U.S. history Alburghouti was walking across campus when he happened upon the scene. He captured the only video of police entering a building and audio of the gunshots (CNN, 2007). As significant as this appears, some iReporters and journalists have discussed the ethi cal issues that come into play (Witt, 2008; Callan, 2008). One example involves iReporter Grayson Daughters who is also a media consultant. Daughters posted an iReport video of one her former clients that received ten thousand hits and was subsequently featured on CNN. The author of this paper is not implying that anything unethical occurred, and Daughters says she fully disclosed to CNN staff that she at one time worked for the political pollster ystem explaining that, iReporter posted a hoax on the W claiming that Jobs had suffered a heart attack. cent after the information was published. CNN responded by suspending the user account
15 and the SEC launched an investigation into whether or not the hoax about Jobs was intended to devalue Apple lan, 2008). CNN did not air the report or pu blish it on CNN.com, nor has it modified its vetting policy (Callan, 2008). T he purpose of this research is to explore the selection and deci sion making process of CNN iReport staff who are responsible for overseeing the i Report community and are involved in vetting the con tent to determine if these activities are similar to or different from traditional gate keeping practices. CNN was selected for the study because its loc ation in Atlanta is accessible and be cause the iReport brand is well recognized among mainstream n ews o rganizations.
16 Chapter Three Methodology Bruns (2008) suggests that qualitative studies can play an important role in understanding how citizen journalism is integrated into news operations, especially in consideration of the limited tools and methods of r esearch established thus far qualitative research, this stu dy examines an area that does not 27). Wit h these factors in mind a new media gatekeeping study conducted by Beard and Olsen (1999 ) was used as a model for the current r esearch. In Beard and interviewed to determine the values and principles that guided them in making gatekeeping decisions. Long interviews were used to gather data for the study. The study found that gatekeeping is a valuable approach to study those who are responsible for the selection of messages in online medi a, and the authors conclude that Webmaster s have similar responsibilities and deal with the same constraints as traditional media gatekeepers. Similar to the study by Beard and Olsen (1999 ), this paper uses guidelines delineated by McCracken (1988), whic h suggests that in depth interviews with eight individuals be used to qualitatively gather data. According to McCracken e of this kind of study is to, cess of inquiry involves a four step pattern that includes : 1) A review of analytic categories and i nterview design, 2) A review of cultural c ategories and interview design, 3) Interview procedure and the discovery of cultural categories, and 4) interview analysis and the discovery
17 of analytical categories (p. 29). A semi structured survey questionnair e was used to interview the subjects who were audio taped with a digital recorder. The question s were phrased in a general non descript manner. Once the interviews were complet ed, the analysi s stage began which included a professional verbatim transcrip tion of the interviews followed by a series of analysis that identified common themes. Eight individua ls who work for CNN.com were indentified and interviewed for this study. Each individual works in the iReport department, as a manager, community mana ger, or associate producer. Based on some of the issues that have been examined in the literature review, this study will seek answers to the following questions. RQ1: How is technology used to gather user generated media, and what procedures are in plac e to solicit it? RQ2: What are the challenges or benefits related to integrating user produced content into news programming, and how is the content shared across the W eb and broadcast network? RQ3: What criteria are used to determine if user generated m edia meets established news standards? Disclosures The primary investigator in this study is a broadcast journalist with more than ten years of experience wo rking for news stations in Washington, D.C. and Tampa, FL. He also briefly work e d for the Black Family Channel, where he develop ed a pilot for a citizen journalism news program. In addition, he worked as a freelance correspondent for HDNews, and as a freelance video journalist for the Associated Press. He is a member of the iReport community and has uploaded a few stories. After t he CNN YouTube debate, he uploaded a comm entary that was featured on CNN and HLN on July 24, 2007 (CNN, 2007). None of the other videos uploaded ha ve been featured on the network.
18 Description of the Sample ons. The employees are primarily responsible for monitoring, reviewing, and vetting user generated content that is uploaded to the iReport community. The iReport dep artment is three years ol d and has established best practi ces and a method to identify and vet content. Additionally, content submitted to iReport is used s and on the W eb. On October 26, 2009 CNN re launched CNN.com and inte grated iReport into t he main news site Prior to that, iReport existed on a separate domain, www. iReport.com. All of the information that is presented in this study is based on data that was collected prior to the re launch. The interviews took place between August 26, 200 9 and September 25, 2009 at the CNN.com offices in Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout the discussion and findings they are referred to as respondents, iReport producers or iReport team members. iRepor ters, iReport community members or contr ibutors refer to th e community members who produce and share iReports. All of the participants who participated in this study did not object to having and to protect their identities, t he eight respondents are identified by letter only. Respondent A is the manager of the iReport team. She has eight years of experience working at the network. She leads the team and sets the tone for the overall vision for how the community operates and how goa ls a re executed. She started as a W ebmaster and moved into the editorial side creating interactive co ntent before she helped launch iReport in 2006. Respondent B is the Community Manager He has more than fifteen years of experience working in news. H is primary responsibil ities are to moderate the site; make sure members are fol lowing the community guidelines; and that they are hav ing a positive experience. He has worked in the iReport department for a year and a half.
19 Respondent C is the iReport Ne ws Manager He has more than seven years of experienc e working in news He has been with iReport since the community launched in 2006. He is responsible for deciding what kind of assignments the department is interested in gathering from the community. Respondent D is an Associate Producer. Working for iReport is her first professi onal job working in news. She has worked for the network for about a year. Her job is to monitor and vet content and then pitch it to CNN and CNN.com. Respon dent E is a S enior Associate Producer. She has worked at the network for three years. Her responsibilities include m onitoring the community content and verifying information. Respondent F is an Associate Producer. Her responsibilities include attending the morning news editorial meeting and pitching iReports to CNN and CNN.com. She is also responsible for linking iReport stories to the CNN.com W ebsite. This is her first professional news job. Respondent G is an Associate Producer. He has worked at the network f or four and a half years in various departments and has worked in the iReport unit for about a year. He assists in community management duties, and monitors, vets, and pitches content for use on CNN or CNN.com. Respo ndent H is an Associate Producer. Sh e works the ev ening shift and weekends. She has less than a year of experience working at CNN.com. Her responsibilities include vetting content that can be used for on air for either CNN or CNN.com and linking iReport stories to the CNN.com Website. It should also be noted that a CNN.com Public Relations representativ e was in the room monitoring all of the interview sessions Though CNN was open and willing to participate in this study, the investigator was informed that certain information about the op eration could not be discussed publicly.
20 Chapter Four Findings 1. How is technology used to gather user generated media, and what procedures are in place to solicit it? For all of the respondents, technology plays a major role in the gathering, selection, vetting, and distribution of user generated content. The iReport community is made up of approximately 300 to 350 thousand individuals who participate in a variety of ways. In general, community members use the site to share their photos and video s with CNN, discuss the ne ws, communicate with each other and build real relationships with CNN/iReport staff. Respondent A the iReport community is bubbling up and be the voice for that inside the news iReport producers pay atte ntion to what the community gravitates toward and they work to get the content featured on CNN and CNN.com. All of the respondents indicated that the Internet has chang ed be shared, obviously, more readily, and easier W eb has made the process of finding sources easier, while Respondent F said ism enables people to report on new s so much quicker, like The primary way that content is collected on iReport. com is through the iReport.com W ebsite Online visitors who want to contribute must register to be able to upload photos, video, and text. iReporters also comment on content, engage in conversations about the news, and share the content with external W ebsites and communities. The most common types of content that are
21 contributed to the site are : 1) bre a king news, 2) feature stories, 3 ) enterprise stories 4) community commentary/conversations, and 5) fun projects. During brea king news events, the iReport staff does not do much to solicit content. For example, Respondent D shared the story that broke du ring President ticketed attendees were having trouble getting into the event until the iReports started being uploaded to we were lik election crisis, the iReport site quick Respondent H. Though technology allows the greater public to quickly and easily share content, R espondent A stated that nothing is new about the public sharing f ootage with news outlets. She recounted a tsunami story that occurred pre tapes. Like, people actually, physically mailed amazing like these huge bins full of, gathering, but more than that, it represents a change in the people who can Other than breaking news, human interest stories are common according to the respondents. They usually solicit and gather these stories from assignment desk page. After an assignment is featured the iReport team works to inform the community about what they are seeking In addition to featuring assignment s on the iReport commun ity, iReport producers also publicize assignments with their Twitter and Facebook network. The hope is that people will find an assignment interesting and share content that will become part the news programming on CNN or CNN.com. Respondent C explained t hat he makes the decisions about the assignments that are featured, but said that usually it is a group decision that involves the community manager and the rest of the team. One example of a succ essful assignment mentioned by
22 Respondents A and D focused on the anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1969. The assignment asked the iReport community to refle ct back on the last forty years. O ne story that was submitted involved the son of a NASA employee who helped save the mission to the moon when he reconn ected a piece of equipment by reaching his arm into a tiny space. The boy ended up meeting Neil Armstrong, but never talked about it publicly until he shared it with iReport years later. Respondent A explained that the story became the centerpiece of the news coverage. During the anniversary of World War II, the iReport staff invited people to share their stories. Respondent C stated n before, and it offe these stories are personal, interesting, and powerful. according to Respondent C who said that several iReporter s have developed relationships with the team and will find, develop, and produce stori es on their own. Often discus s with them, like story angles and story ideas he said. Respondent A mentioned a contributor who lost his job and produced a video diary type se ries that documented his move from the west coast to th e East coast to live with family. As a final example, Respondent B mentioned an underwater photograph er who is worki ng on a project to document rai sing a schooner that may have su nk in the War of 1812. Since there is no record of the ship, it is believed that it may have been used to help slaves escape to Canada. Though this next category of participati on was mentioned to a lesser degr ee, the community also helps CNN find people to pa rticipate in interview segments an iReport, and literally, within 10 minute s or less, you could be on the air talking to Wolf Blitzer about something that just happened. In another instance, iReporters were allowed to s ubmit questions to guests on
23 colleg e grad was chosen to ask a question to President Obama, and after Michael Phelps won multiple medals in the 2008 Olympics iReporters had the oppo rtunity to ask him questions on air as well. Respondent A added that iReporters were featured on other news p rograms like AC 360. theme that was repeated by the senior iReport team members was that news is shifting from a lecture to being more of a co nversation and that iReport is a way conversation between CNN and its audience that ultimately results in richer, deeper, more personally relev The fi nal category of content mentioned by respondents is fun content. Examples include a bi weekly a ssignment called the Photo Club and crowd sourcing assignments. With the Photo Club, t he iRe port team com es up with a assignment, iReport staff produces an interactive photo gallery that is featu red on CNN.com. The gallery gets some of the highest traffic on the site. Another example is crowd s o urcing projects, which involve asking a question that affects a lot of people. Respondent C said one successful crowd sourcing assignment occurred during a spike in gas prices. People not only took pictures of the high prices at the pump, but one iReport er in the Midwest started biking to work and produced a story about it. 2. What are the challenges or benefits related to integrating user generated content into news programming? The respondents in general indicated that the benefits outweigh the challeng es however they primarily identify two categories of challenges: internal organiza tional challenges that involve how other CNN employees have adopted and accepted user generated content, and community challenges which pertain to issues related to how th e iReport staff manages the contributors, makes assignments, and decides how the content is used. As far a s the benefits, the
24 responses focused on how iReport has helped improve the quality of news programming. Internal Organizational Chall enges When CNN launched iReport in Sept ember 2006, the first challenge involved the adoption of the news platform by the CNN organization. Respondent G stated that it wa people of the average guy or woman out there who is sending this video or pondent A said that the fir st iReport that aired was a squirrel on a branch, and explained Six months later the b enefits of iReport were realized during the Virginia Tech shooting. Respondent A s person who captured any part of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. histo ry that left 33 people dead was a student with a cell phone Listening to the gun shots in the video is what helped CNN and the rest of the world determine that there had been a second shooting and it was much more serious than the first o ne, and that, you know, this story was enormously serious and sentiments and added that from a news gathering perspective, the Virginia Tech example demonstrated the value of iReport t o other CNN employees. The process of getting widespr ead acceptance of iReport has not happened overnight, and t he iReport producers both pitch content and focus on relationship building to get others in the organization to underst and how iReports can be included in news coverage. Respondent B explained that CNN is a large organiza tion, and some people who have not used it are hesitant, so the iReport c added that building one on one relationships has been key to helping CNN as a whole understand the value of it. She said that each time a submission makes
25 include everyone from people who are in the control room during breaking stori es are beginning to stack up and include: the California wild fires, the Minnesota bridge collapse, the Chinese e arthquake, and the Jakarta bombings. As useful as iReport can be, it can also be a challenge to find ways to include content in some of the p rogramming said Respondent C who spends a want to learn how to use iReport. He likened it to being a coach and said that sometimes the y have creative ideas that do not always work One example included a CNN.com producer who wanted iReporters to cook recipes and tal k about it. Respondent C did not feel that it was a right fit for the community so he tried to offer some alternative ideas that could work. Community Challenges The iReport team has encountered challenges that pertain to the onl ine community of iReporters who share their conten t. These challenges include controlling content quality, managing assignments, and keeping the overall experience on the site enjoyable f or iReporters. Although some content was said to be creative and interesting, most of the respondents expressed concerns regarding the quality of submissions. Respondent B stated that the content from iReporters is inconsistent, while Respondent H gave an example of a number of blurry images that were send a CNN crew to tell that story, it will be amaz sometimes the content is good but the iReporter will fail to add any text details. This can be a challenge because the iReport team wants to collect as much information as they can about a story, and it sometimes takes additio nal digging to find a newsworthy angle. Respondent s A and C said there are ongoing
26 concerns with people who post Respondent H. She gave an example of a plane crash that occurred in the Northeast and rec alled reviewing a submission from a 16 year old. After l you to do that? Why did you have a $30,000 Respondent D also spoke about the challenges of confirming information. someone on the phone or on the Internet, as opposed to meeting them in person, e out how legit their story is or if they are who they say they rk because, There are also challenges with creating and managing the assignments. It has been a work in progress, and they have had to learn as they go along explained Respondent B. He shared an exa mple of a memorable story that was submitted shortly after the community launched of a woman who tattooed a story was, he admitted that they really d id not know what to do with it at the time. he said. Respondent C indicated that their overarching goal is to create value for the community membe rs by helping get their content featured on CNN and CNN.com. instructions and produces something, well then we damn well better make sure we do everything we can that that gets incorpora That b eing said, the community does not always respond favorably to
27 assignments So I want a reaction piece on X from iReporters. We may put up a n assignment; just gets a little argument, but nothing you can really write about. And the editor that She added that not everything contributed is newsworthy, like a photo of a Respondent B is responsib le for monitoring conversations and making sure the communi t y rules are not violated. Alt hough tically state that his job is challenging, he has to weed out bad behavior and conversations racist or hate spe ding that he removes content that break s the community rules. He also keeps an eye on content that is offens ive, but if it does not break the rules he will let it remain even i f he does not agree with it. truggl issues, they are learning from each experience and trying different approaches to create an environment where the users feel comfort able, and safe, and find value in their participation. Benefits Each respondent expressed p erceived benefits from the community to gather three general types of news and information: 1) breaking news ; 2) interesting, new and diverse content; and 3) witnesses and guests.
28 Breaking News The first and most obvious area wh ere CNN benefits from iReport.com is during breaking situations. The Virginia Tech shooting was a seminal moment for the network. Respondent C said it is an example of iReport. com being able to before seen images of a major breaking news e Respondents E and H talked about using iReport to gather news during the Iran election crisis. Respondent H also gave the example of the 2009 Atlanta floods and added iReporter s are almo reporters. Alternative Sources & New Angles The iReport team believes that CNN greatly benefits from the stories, conversations, and perspective s from the iReporters. The contributions from the community helps the network share more compl ete stories, get different angle s or perspective s and gather stories that would have been missed altogether. Respondent G recalled a devastating brush fire in Australia where an iReporter s any way that to the 2009 G20 protests. CNN had one or two cameras covering the event, but thanks to iReporters the network received multiple submissions that allowed them to get more sides of th e story. Respondent D said iReport producers benefit from being able to pick and cho o cture to tell espondent E. Though the iReports tend to be personal, subjective, first per son stories, Respondent A did not see it as a drawback. therefore, more important with iReport than without it Witnesses & Guests A final benefit according to the respondents is that iReport allows new sources to easily participate in the news. Responde nt A said iReport producers
29 see k out alternative guests that are sometimes booked for on air segme nts, and iRepor ters offer new voices to other guests who appear regularly on the network featured on multiple news networks. Respond ent A shared the example of an experiment they tried o n The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. During the 2009 Presidential election race they booked high profile guests like John McCain or Barack Obama and allowed half o meant the character of the interviews was a lot different because it was divided between two approaches t o interviewing, which I think she explained. Respondents B and C explained tha t iReport makes it easier to find people who are affected by newsworthy issues, an d both gave the example of the swine f lu story. They explained that experts are usually always included in health stories, but with iRepor t they can find real people to talk about it. and you would call up your sources and say, about the swine f lu. ebsite, the community news assignments 2b. Ho w is content shared across the W eb and broadcast network? The process of distributin and involves vetting pitching, and outreach. iReport producers pitch newsworthy content to the various producers, who make the final decisio ns about u sing it It should be mentioned that before an iReport can be pitched, iReport producers vet the content to ma ke sure the information is true and that the iReporter who submitted it also produced the content. All approved iReport content receives a red producers across the company can use it as they like. In general nine to ten percent of all iReports submitted get approved for use on CNN or CNN.com,
30 however that does not m ean that all of it get s used and has the green light to be used on any show, and individual show producers look at that content, and if they think they wa nt to ers are not required to use iReports. In some cases it i s a two conversation we have a s a group and with the producer in the different sections of CNN.com, with the producers of the different sho to want to use it The process starts every weekday morning in the CNN.com editorial meeting. The group consists of about ten people who are mos tly for mer newspaper editors and now work for CNN.com. Respondent F attends the meeting after reviewing recent iReport submissions and then she, the editors, bring t he perspective from iReporters. H iReport editorial team actively promotes ne wsworthy iReport s with producers. As iReports are submitted thr oughout the day, iReport producers search for content that they think is newsworthy. Once they identify potentially newsworthy content, a producer will vet it and give a summary of what they have gathered to other mail daily that anyone at CNN far when an iReport producer finds content that he or she thinks will be in demand like a fire or bre aking news, she will start the process of vetting and pitching right away. The process also involves helping CNN producers who work around the world understand how ained Respondent C.
31 There are some differences in how iReports get shared on broadcast channels versus content that is featured on CNN.com. In general, producers on both platforms have the final say regarding which iReports get used, however the i Report team controls some of the content that appears on the Website. The top story 1 by Respondent F during the week and Respondent G during evenings and weekend s. Respondent F said the link, her job is making sure iReport stories are linked to CNN.com during her shift. Respondent F also sa id that during brainstorming session s t he iReport team will come to a con sensus about the most compelling submissions. A member of the iReport unit will either edit the vid eo or write the story, then pitch it to CNN it posts directly to CNN.com is the Photo Club galleries, which are themed beauty shots contributed by iReporters. Another interesting point is that the iReport staff do es not have exclusive authority to monitor, vet, and approve content for CNN. Approximately 600 CNN employees outside of the iReport department have been trained on how to search for content, vet it, and use it in CNN programming. Respondent A said that this incredible swatch of people who are tasked in gathering a nd vetting new s at iReport is viewed as another source of information, but like all news, it has to be verified first. Once the content is approved, it can be used in numerous ways according to Respondent C: e. It can be directly show, you know, part of a segment on CNN.com Live, Headline News, CNNi.
32 In conclusion, he pointed out that CNN has no o fficial system that tracks how i Reports are used, but felt that a good amount of the vetted content is used in some capacity. 3. What criteri a are used to determine if user generated content meets established news standards ? Each respondent has his or her own definition of what makes a n event, situation or piece of content newsworth regarding wha t makes something newsworthy is personal and subjective The attitude of the iReport team most likely has been shaped by their exposure to the non profe ssional content that is submitted on iReport.com. Respondent A said, very different from the way we approach it on a daily basis on the iReport team. Her definition of ne w s standards on one hand, but the stories are more personal and subjective, instead of being objective like traditional news content. Respondent A stated to share content and incorporate it with CNN. It allows CNN to maintain its content must meet the same rigorous st andards as any other information that is featured on CNN and CNN.com. After analyzing the process, iReports that get published or broadcasted on CNN must pass throu gh multiple gates that include: 1) the co mmunity and technological gates; 2) the iReport te technologically assis ted vetting process; and 3) CNN producers. The iReport platform is designed to give everyone a voice, and contributors include professional journalists, students, amateur video producers,
33 news eyewitnesses, and people who are pass ionate about news. The overall objective of the iReport team is to locate newsworthy content that can be user generated content must pass through to get featured on the network The first gate is the iReport community. Anyone can contribu te content as long as it does not of content that would fall into this category is pornography, obscene discussions, or an e xtreme personal attack, but there is no indication that the community has had any big problems in those areas. Since the iReport team does not work around the clock, CNN has hired a third party moderation team to look at everything that is uploaded to make sure it is within the community guidelines. reviewed within fifteen minutes of being posted to th e site. These moderators do not they have the authority to pull content if it is in violation of the guidelines. Respondent D explained that the moderators normally contact a n iReport staff member bef ore removing content have she explained. Sometimes if t he content is questionable, iReport proucers will contact the community member to explain why there is a problem. and said. Respondent C stated that editorial freedom is important i n the iReport the post m oderation process, iReport editors generally let the community police Once the content is uploa ded to the site, the second gate is th e professional iReport producers or the other trained CNN employees who identify photos and video that may be suitable for use on the network. Respondent F said that br eaking news and weather is big, ook for really solid content, stories that are really well edited and told, and just interesting in general
34 consuming task, and the associate producers primarily search for newsworthy content on th e site, however, they are unable to physically review everything. During this phase of the news selection process, the community plays a role in deciding what content should be considered by the iReport team. It happens through technology, which helps th em identify the most popular, and best content on the community according to Respondent A and the other respondents. She explained that in 2008 CNN adde d an algorithm to help filter content on the iReport W ebsite. The formula uses data from community ac tivity such as the number of comments, how it is rated, and how many times the content is shared to determine how newsworthy the story is. It essentially allows content that is getting significant attention from the community to rise to the top. It appea on the iReport site. All of the respondents said that the community itself plays a lot of submissions a day so sometimes comments on it example of how the community helped bring newsworthy content to their attention. He said there was a story from an iReporter who attached a camera to a balloon a nd sent it to the edge of space and took some pictures from above earth. Online users outside of iReport started linking to the story, and it received about 50,000 radar. We saw how many people were responding to this, and we went after it, and it became a story this phase of the news sel ection process the stories do not necessarily meet the established news values of CNN but rather reflect what the community determines to be newsworthy. A fter the iReport producer or trained CNN employee decides to pursue an
35 he rules of engagement are ery piece of content that is considered, and this is where professional journalism standa rds are applied. These are the key factors that will help CNN staffers decide if user generated content is newsworthy: 1) A verbal conversation with the submitter is required; 2) The content gathered must be a real event; 3) The video or photo cann ot be altered or modified; 4) The iReporter who subm its the content must capture it an d have the rights to share it; and 5) The iReporter must be of legal age, or if the s ubmitter is a minor, their parents must give permission to share the content. The conversation with the iReporter is an important step in the process be cause iReport producers often have to gather additional facts or details to help tell the story. The degree of questioning differs from situation to situatio n. If they are verifying an on camera commentary from the iReporter, they may ask some basic questions about their bac kground and area of expertise. If it is a breaking news story or weather video t he vetting process is more in depth. The iReport team may consult experts outside of their department at CNN to verify the details matches what other reporters are saying or what other people are saying and they suspect the submitter is not being honest, t hey will continue to probe until they are able to determine if the story is true or real. They are also able to use technology to determ ine if photos are authentic. The primary method of checking photos is by opening the picture up in Photoshop and asking the submitter questions about the camera that was used. The software indicates what kind of camera captured the image, which allows t hem to verify whether or not the iReporter took the photo. The 2009 Iran election crisis was one breaking news story that st ood out for Respondents E and H and demonstrated the diligence that the iReport team
36 puts into verifying user generated content. Bot h partic ipants monitored the community and vetted iRepor ts when the unrest broke out surrounding the controversial election results. When the violence erupted CNN created a special area and brought in specialists from all over the company to gather infor mati on about the events and to communicate in one area. Some of the employees spoke Farsi, some were brought in to monitor content on YouTube, while Respondent E was responsible for monitoring iReports. She said it was very no media in there, and nothing coming out. Communication was said the main challenge was making contact with iReporters and verifying information. In man y cases, she used triangulation and had to rely on CNN experts, as well as people who had been there. She said she also relied on her careful, so she often consulted with others at the network. Since iReporters could have been in danger for sharing the content, she was also extremely from YouTube, but that content did not go through the CNN verification process, so the network was able to differentiate its iReport content by reporting that the YouTube content was unverified. Respon dent H had a similar experience and said she was working alone on the iReport desk the day after the election when the unrest started. She said the Iranian government shut down many of the popular video sharing sites so a lot of content was coming into iReport. She used both e mail and the phone to try to contact people: And right awa h, here did you get th h I got this from my friend on mailed me the or iginal files. Photoshop to confirm that the contributor actually took the pictures and s he
37 spoke to the intern ational desk to confirm that the s ituation s really happened. Respondent H ex appears to be working as designed. Respondent A said that they ha ve never had to correct an iReport on CNN that has been through the vetting process. iReport content can be rejected as well. The reasons include: not being able to contact the iReporter; a lack of specific de tail or concrete information; the content inf ringes on copyright; the quality was subpar; or the iReporter falsified informatio n. In addition, there are other factors that may prevent an approved iReport from being used by the network The most common are that either CNN r eceived multiple submissio ns and did not have room for other reports, or the iReport was sent in too late. It is difficult to gener alize what kind of iReports get selected because no there and look iReport department goes, some respondents gave subjective reas ons for selecting iReports, like the content was exciting, it had great production value, or s stated that storie s that affected a lot of people and breaking news caught their eye. Nearly all of the respondents also seeme d drawn to unusual stories that involved a personal experience which is a big difference be tween traditional news content and iRe ports. iRe ports tend to include opinions and personal accounts compared to objective, neutral reporting produced by professional journalists who work for CNN. Respondent A explained that, hen you put them both together, you get
38 Ch apter Five Discussion newsgathering process though the iReport.com Website to examine how user generated content may be affecting news gatekeeping. Though scholars have examined how various news outlets have attempted to create participatory and interactive news initiatives, (Bozkowski, 2004; Duze, Bruns & Neuberger, 2007; Storms, 2007; Domingo et. al, 2008; Baaker & Panti, 2009), it appears that CNN is among the first news networks that have established procedures, norms, and best practices for gathering and distributing content that is gathered from the general public. This is a multi faceted process that involves technology, the show producers. After considering how the iReport community is structured, the methods used to gather content, how iReport staffers communicate and interact with contributors, and how the content is vetted then selected for the news, it appea rs that the process of selecting user generated content involves a technological process as well as traditional gatekeeping. The role that Websites play in the publishing of user generated content is a recent addition to news production (Boczkowski, 2004 p. 206). In the case of iReport.com a specific online community has been designed that allows users to upload images and video, share the content to external sites, and engage in conversations. More importantly though, technology built into the Website allows visitors and iReport producers to see what content is being viewed the most or generating a large share of the conversations. The Website and the community then become a part of the gatekeeping process because popular content gets featured and rece ives greater exposure. In addition, community members can flag content that they believe is objectionable, and if content is obscene or in
39 violation of community guidelines, third party site moderators have the ability to remove it. Once iReport produce rs identify content that may be newsworthy, they use established practices that is similar to traditional gatekeeping (White, 1950; Shoemaker, 1991; Livingston & Bennet, 2003). Several of the respondents said that this is when their professional journalis m skills are utilized. Once a submission is deemed potentially newsworthy, iReport producers go about contacting the iReport contributors and confirming that they in fact captured the media, did not alter it in any way, and witnessed the event. Through t his iReport. There are other factors that contribute to their decisions to consider content like the quality of the submission, the overall news value and the timeliness. Once iReport producers are confident that the content is true and newsworthy, they will pass the material onto CNN Web and show producers who have the final say in using it or not. When asked if the public has a role in deciding what iReports are used by C NN, the respondents gave similar, but sometimes opposing answers. effect that iReport allows collaborat ion between the public and CNN and that various features on the site. Respondent D said the public does not have the final decision but plays a significant role because the iRepor t community tells CNN what content people are most interested in. Additionally, Respondents E,F,G and H all stated that the process is community driven, and the most popular content usually rises up, which usually prompts iReport producers to begin the re view process. The author suspects that Respondent A believes that since the in influencing what CNN is able to feature, while the other respondents view the content as bein g an additional news source. In other words, once the media is
40 on the site, they treat it like any other information in the world, and the submitter they captured it themsel ves and that it is a true, newsworthy event. This suggests that the public may have an indirect ability to set the news agenda, however, it is difficult to determine a definitive answer. It appears that iReport is having the greatest impact on coverage when the community shares images from events that CNN has either missed or has limited access to. Almost every example shared from major news events like the Iran election crisis and the Virginia Tech massacre shared a similar theme: the greater public ca n gather content quickly via cell phone cameras and can serve as eyes and ears for traditional media outlets during times of crisis (Du, 2007). While other studies indicate that soft news and features are preferred by other news organizations that are wor king to include public participation (Dueze, Bruns & Neuberger, 2007; Baaker & Pantti, 2009), CNN has developed an effective process of including the public in high profile breaking news situations. Nearly all of the respondents who participated in this s tudy viewed the general public as an content like images, it is important that a professional verify and fa ct check the submission for authenticity, which is an important step to maintain high journalistic standards (Baaker & Pantti, 2009). The iReport team maintains that they have never let a false news item filter through their gate and end up on air or on t he CNN.com Website. While other studies suggest that some traditional print and online news organizations are dealing with internal and external forces that are limiting the full integration of citizen journalism, or user generated content into the news product (Storm, 2007; Dueze, Bruns, & Neuberger, 2007; Baaker and Pantti, 2009), CNN encourages people to share images and video of breaking news, their personal stories and other content with the network. McQuail (1994) suggested that built in limitation in its implication that news arrives in ready
41 made and unproblematic event ready made, nor is it either adm itted or excluded at the gate because there are numerous scenarios that can affect the content selection process. The community may or may not find the story interesting, and it may not garner attention from iReport producers; iReport producers might like the content, but it may not get approved during the vetting process; there may be quality issues; or the media might not be submitted in a timely fashion. The content might be approved for air during the vetting process, but CNN producers may decide again st using it. In addition, the content may be high on the newsworthy scale, however in the event of numerous submissions, some content invariably will not make it onto the network. That being said, the majority of the content submitted to iReport is not c ensored on the online community. It is designed to and it appears to allow public discourse and conversations around diverse topics, similar to the media eco system described by Gilmore (2005). of this participatory news shift. In general, they all have a broad view of what makes an event or moment newsworthy. For the iReport team, news is a very personal, and subjective experience for iReport users and may not fit into the traditional box of w hat CNN may consider to be news. The fact that the community can report on personal issues and experiences provides texture and adds a dimension that traditional news reporting often lacks according to the respondents. The iReport team generally believes that there is significant value in allowing the public to share content with CNN through the iReport community. Few studies have shown this level of mainstream adoption of citizen produced this study suggest s that gatekeeping theory is being affected by convergence and public participation. The Internet allows new voices from amateur content producers, product. Tho ugh not discussed in depth during this study, there are additional
42 conversations occurring on third party social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Overall, this suggests that new s could be becoming more inclusive of conversations with the public (Nguyen, 2006). Respondent A said she hopes the department sets the example for the next generation of journalists that issues, personal experiences and newsworthy events with the network and the pub lic.
43 Chapter Six Conclusion iReport represents an innovative method of newsgathering that involves the submission of unfiltered content on the community level and a process that insures that submissions meets established news standards once the content i s considered for air. The findings of this study suggest that CNN is adopting participatory gatekeeping practices. In general, participatory research that has involved print or online news organizations has yielded little evidence that such operations ar e significantly including true public participation ( Storms, 2007; Dueze, Bruns & Neuberger, 2007; Dom ingo et al., 2008), and other broadcast networks like ABC have struggled with similar ventures (Becker, 2006). In llows open conversations, and encourages the public to submit content with the overarching goal of sharing as networks, and on the CNN.com Website. Other networks like Fox News C hannel and MSNBC have also ventured to submit content through the respective Websites. (TVNewser, 2008; Si zemore; 2010). More analysis is needed to identify specific similarities or differences, however, the following information was drawn from an unscientific visit to each site: Fox News Channel has a dedicated Website called uReport for user submissions, a nd solicits breaking news, however activity on the site appears to consists of photo galleries that were created using amateur content. There appears to be some participation and content includes photos from the Minnesota Bridge Collapse, and Michael Jackson tributes from around the world
44 however the content is mostly dated. It is assumed that though Fox News Channel and MSNBC have attempted to engage the public though use r generated content, each has yet to build a robust community around user generated content like CNN. As far as developing models and hypothesis to help advance the participatory media model, gatewatching is one concept that could be applied to particip atory news operations (Bruns, 2003; Bruns, 2008). Bruns (2003) asserts of media outlets which are media organizations and news professionals operate under established practices and norms to ensure that newsworthy and credi ble information is passed on to consumers (Livingston & Bennett, 2003). With gatewatching, however, the news professional metaphorically becomes a librarian and guides newsworthy ted in the audience rather than the information providers, and it is possible that unverified information and bias are passed on to consumers. This puts responsibility on the consumer to become an active consumer and seek additional sources or find the fa iReport, the community itself holds the library of conversations, user generated content and commentary. The technology built into the site directs members and visitors to the most interesting and newsworthy c ontent. Gatewatching assumes is the case. On the iReport.com community level, it appears that it c ould be an example of an open news community however, the second phase of the process also takes on traditional gatekeeping characteristics by the CNN staff in the iReport department and producers who make the final decision whether or not to include user generated content.
45 This study may help set the stage for future research in the field of participatory media. On a wider level, two question s that builds from this study are : How many network or broadcast news organizations are including content or conv ersations from the public via the Internet? What processes are in place to insure that news standards are maintained, and what is the most efficient way to collect, review, and distribute t he content? To gain insights to these and similar questions, Domin to analyze participatory practices at other national or local broadcast news degree of online adoption and convergenc e is Dailey, Demo and (2005) convergence continuum. The one shortfall of the model is that it does not attempt to define nor measure how convergence occurs at the content gathering stage, which in some cases like this includes user generated co ntent. As mentioned, studies that examine Bruns (2008 ) gatewa tching model warrants further consideration. Future research could examine participatory gatekeeping on a managerial and operations level, or a qualitative study of community mem bers may provide insightful data into whether or not the iReport sit e can become a trusted news source because CNN staff vet and identify credible stories. There are also several challenges that have been revealed in this examination of scholarly litera ture surrounding this topic. This study represents an example of a news operation that has a dedicated staff, and the infrastructure to support a citizen journalism community. It may be challenging to develop a theoretical model based on this research be cause iReport and the technology behind it is unique to CNN. Some additional factors affect this subject matter a s well. There is little agreement as to what to call non professional news content. The term citizen journalism is widely used however that tit le appears to be too vague for researchers who are looking for terms that can be specifically applied to their area of study. For example, Storms (2007) argues that citizen journalism generated user content as it is submitted by use rs online
46 professional photojournalists. seems to appropriately define content producers who are also users. The generated content instead of citizen journalism. Though the t opic was not part of the questionnaire, generated content citizen journalism to be content produced by backpack journal ists who create high quality stories for a blog as an example. He went on to explain that while some of the content on iReport fits into that category, most of the contributors are people who have no interest in being a journalist, but they have an opini on or an interesting story to share. Other concepts like convergence also need to be more clearly defined as scholars move towards developing new hypothesis and theories. Regarding definition and instrument, scholars cannot build a research stream that allows comparison of results, and professionals cannot make informed decisions on with the larger im plications that citizen journalism may have on their credibility (Baaker & Pantti, 2008). I t appears to be hard to predict how news organizations are adapting to multi media, convergence, and user generated content because newsrooms have different needs, values, and practi ces (Boczkowski, 2004; Baaker & Pa ntti, 2009). Baaker and how print and broadcast media in the Netherlands use amateur content found that: There seemed to be an almost total lack of standardization and agreemen t on how to facilitate, use and evaluate nonprofessional images. One reason for this uncertainty certainly involves the rapid pace of change occurring in the media industry and the lack of clarity about the direction in which it is moving (p. 476). Parti cipatory media appears to be more appealing as journ alism organiz ations search for viable financial model s Public participation through
47 blogs and the sharing of photos and video are believed to be possible solutions, as explained in The New York Times if newspapers are going to survive in anything like their current form, they will have to become more digital centric operations with smaller newsrooms and a greater reliance on outside sources, including contributions from people in the communities th ey cover (Adams, 2009) Despite the challenges, this is a fascinating time to be a part of the media, whether it is on the professional, amateur or academic level. The Internet has created an environment for change, innovation, and collaboration. From b logs, user generated videos, amateur photos, or conversations on Facebook and Twitter, participatory media is evolving into a global phenomenon. Participatory and social media have been used in Africa during post election controversies (Kuira, 2008; Dumis ani; 2009). In the U.S., newspapers like the New York Times are trying to provide hyper local content by embracing citizen journalism (Adams, 2009). As researchers atte mpt to understand what this means for mass communications, it must be acknowledged tha t most research designs and theoretical concepts are in their infancy (Dailey, Demo & Spillman, 2005 Bruns, 2008; Domingo et al., 2008; Baaker & Pantti, 2009). T his stud y documented how the selection of news occurs in a n established network has created a participatory model for integrating user produced content into its programming This area of research deserves much attention from scholars. It seems that (1950) version of gatek eeping has evolved in some ways to now include participatory forms of newsgathering that involves multiple gates, some of which selection process, which seemed to be guided by his own beliefs, iReport produc ers turn to the online community to get a sense of what kind of content the members are gravitating to. This author suggests that a participatory gatekeeping process may more accurately describe the computer aided process es of gathering, selecting, vettin g, and distributing news when the public is involved. The main limitation of this study, however, is that other news organizations may not be using the same method or technology that CNN has
48 developed. As news professionals continue to turn to the public for content, there may be trends, similarities, or common practices that emerge. There are numerous questions to be answered in this era of digital media, and this study demonstrates that more answers are needed.
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55 A ppendix A Q uestionnaire 1. How long have you worked in news and what is your experience? 2. 3. Who determines wha t is newsworthy? 4. What role would you say you play in the decision making process of content in your current position? 5. Based on your past experience explain the traditional news selection process, in a typical broadcast newsroom. 6. How has the Internet chan ged any newsgathering practices? 7. How is news commonly gathered from non full time CNN staff? 8. What are the benefits or drawbacks of that process? 9. Explain what iReport is. 10. What is the value of iReport? 11. What is the difference between content found on iReport as opposed to traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? 12. How do you determine if an iReport submission has news value? 13. Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air or CNN.com? 14. Is there a process for monitor ? If so what is it? 15. Describe the process used to ensure that iReport content used for broadcast on CNN on CNN.com is accurate? 16. Is there a downside to allowing the public to share their media with CNN? 17. What factors prevent CNN from using iReport sub missions ? 18. Does the publi c have a role in deciding what iReports make air? 19. Does IReport represent a significant change in the way news is gathered? 20. Is there a focus on developing relationships with iReport community members who submit content regularly? If so why?
56 Appen dix B Respondent Interviews RESPONDENT A 8 26 09 (AUDIO STARTS ABRUPTLY.) ( Muffled noise ). ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: Does it matt er ( laughter )? RESPONDENT A: ( Laughter ). Okay! INVESTIGATOR: Respondent A ( laughter ). RESPONDENT A: ( Laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Okay, sure. INVESTIGATOR: ay, so um ( laughter RESPONDENT A: ( Laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). So, to start off with, I kind of do wanna get your experience? RESPOND ENT A: CNN.com for eight years, and, um, I actually started out here as a web master and worked news from the technical side of the house to the editorial side of the house, starting with interactive storytelling, photo galleries, multimedia, slide to say I produced the interactive maps o n CNN.com for Hurricane Katrina Amani Channel: Respondent: A A
Appendix B (Continued) 57 I know N ew O rleans now, having produced every map ( laughter ). And then, um, that kinda led naturally into, like, truly interactive storytelling, which is not just giving users the opportunity to, like, press, choose which button, you know, which path they wanna take to a story, but actually contribute to it in a meaningful way. So, it was kinda a natural slide from that into what eventually became iReport. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Sure. Well, I mean, there are a few levels in the activity. You see them, you know, all over the Web, and then in and what we call interactive means an online presentation of video experience and different from a narrative print piece. So, anything like a Google map that has pins on it for stories that are spread geographically, or a photo gallery that lets driven. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Exactly, yeah. No linear storytelling. And, like, we tried to call that interactive, um, because users are given a choice in the way they want to get through material and which pieces of it they wanna focus on, but the true meaning of interactive is collaboration, right? A conversation that goes two ways, ing on interactive storytelling, just in the, you know, slide shows and photo galleries and maps kind of helped me, set me up for moving to iReport where they were already sort of used to offering choices for users, and it was not as much of an enormous le ap to, instead of just offering choices, like, offer an actual opening into the, you know, news agenda and storytelling INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what is your definition of news? RESPONDENT A: Oh go
Appendix B (Continued) 58 three years. I really fee l like the kind of traditional, capital end version of news is very, is very different from, um, from the way we approach it on a daily basis on the iReport team. So, I think of news as an incredibly broad category, d, or, you know, a so enormous ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: No, not at all. ( Inaudibl e ). So, who determines what is newsworthy within your department? RESPONDENT A: at information up to the larger organization that makes decisions in a more traditional way, which is having a daily news agenda meeting where, you know, the heads of all the different departments come together and talk about what CNN correspondents in various bureaus in the field. You job, in particular, is to be the ears on the ground, listening to what the iReport community is bubbling up and be the voice bridge. INVESTIGATOR: Gotcha. So, what role do you play in the decision making process of content? RESPONDENT A: INVESTIGATOR: In your position. What is you RESPONDENT A: Sure. Well, I lead the iReport team, so I lead the editorial 3,000 foot view is to set the tone for the daily editorial decision making within the iReport team. Um, on a day to
Appendix B (Continued) 59 meets editorial standards. My job is more to rally the team and articulate the vision for what iReport is supp osed to be and how we execute it on a daily basis. So, for example, this morning with Ted Kennedy, we Twitter messages and on blogs, and you know, all over the vast universe ( laughter ) of user generated content. And, helping to, you know, decide, together with the team, what it is we wanna do for Kennedy, which ultimately is hear from real people who are not the kinds of pundits you would see on air every day, but hear from real people who have actually met Kennedy or who have been touched by him in some way and incorporate their feelings about his passing coverage of his funeral. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, based on your past experience, can you explain the traditional news selection process in a typical broadcast news room? RESPONDENT A: CNN.com news room environment. So, in the pre iReport world, the producers for various sections and, you know, the news room editorial leaders would literally sit around this kind of, a roll call, yo conversation about usually deciding th e three to four main people, mostly, um, former newspaper editors, and, you know, sitting around the table and deciding, like, this is what the news room and give assignments to writers and reporters and cover it. In the post iReport world, that sitting is not all The diffe rence is iReport has a seat at the table and is asked seeing from, you know, a guy in a town that CNN is not covering ( laughter this
Appendix B (Continued) 60 together, can we make this T 1. And, T 1 on CNN.com is produ cer who represents the 350,000 contributors from around the world. INVESTIGATOR: Was there a time when iReport was introduced when you RESPONDENT A: seat at the t through, like, large and small successes over time. iReport celebrated its third birthday earlier this month, and, you know, hurray! Congratulations iReport! Um, at the beginning, they won. Um, you know, our very first iReport was a very hot squirrel on a branch, you know? And, it was, could squeeze into the main CNN ship. It was like, oh, throw in at the end of a segment before we go to INVESTIGATOR: Like a ( inaudible ) kind of thing? RESPONDENT A: Totally! Um, but, I think, kind of, our first success that was very different from that which was Virgi nia Tech, which was six months after iReport launched, and, you know, the only video, the single video of that horrible moment was a graduate student with a Nokia cell phone standing outside of the hall as the SWAT team ran in, and you can actually hear th happen. Listening to the gun shots in the video is what helped CNN and the rest of the world determine that there had been a secon d shooting and it was much more serious than the first one, and that, you know, this story was enormously serious and something we needed to focus on. you know? Like, the big news video where it really makes a huge impact in the way CNN is able to cover a story and the way the rest of the world sees CNN coverage. And, with every single one of
Appendix B (Continued) 61 those, you, kind of, you convince another small group of people, you know? Like, the people who are in the control room the moment that video came in are iReport believers process, but with that, with California wild fires right after it, and with the Minnes ota bridge collapse right after that, with the, you know, Chinese earthquake last year and the Jakarta bombing just a few weeks ago, like, they just add up, and over time, you create ambassadors and believers outside of everything, and it means, like, the people who, the people who are in the control room at those key moments, like on the television side, and at CNN.com, who got sources and material they never would have had otherwise, when they get that, like, they come back to iReport the next time and look to be obvious to contribute? What else might be interesting here? And it, like, completely invaluable, and I feel so strongly that enormous transition and the news industry is changing every everyone else is, kind of, scrambling to figure out, you know, e and how do we work really critically important that we make those, like, one on one relationships and, like, one on one, like, prove to individuals who, you know, have, like, 20 years in the br it is in that, like, direct relationship. My hope is that will set need this proof laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: So, explain, in your thoughts, how has the Internet changed news gathering practices? RESPONDENT A: changed them very little. So, I think ultimately, the The rules of engagement are still exactly the same. Double the source. Double check. Verify. You know, find out every bit of inform ation you can about where information is coming and what the incentives might be for why people share
Appendix B (Continued) 62 particular information. Like, all of those, sort of, high level changed is the tools that we have for uncovering that information and the tools that everybody has for uncovering do it. You can do it. Joe Smith sitting on the corner down the street can do it. I mean, that changes our lives, just in terms of access to information and immediacy, but the rules about INVEST IGATOR: In terms of this organization, how has iReport changed the news gathering process? RESPONDENT A: when we can go to air with something are precisely the same as they always have been. Um, iReport changes it in that it offers enormous new perspective and, like, a wealth ho can actually speak with authority on issues, and iReport just completely blows open the doors to the number and kinds of person basically whose job it is to go around to all the news organiza tions ( laughter can be very valuable, but it can also diminish the quality of debate, when you hear the same sound bites over and over, but when you open up the possibility of contribution to anyone who has something to say and has the moral authority to say it, I think can really change the quality of the election, we tried just an experiment with the Situation Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Sarah Palin, which was totally interesting, um, we would invite iReporters to ask the questions, and half the questions would come from Wolf B litzer and his team and, you know, the things they knew they were responsible to ask, and the other half would come from iReporters, who have just as much interest and authority to ask questions, but it meant that the character of
Appendix B (Continued) 63 the interviews was a lot different because it was divided between the two approaches to interviewing, which I think it really compelling. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh, as we saw with the CNN debate ( inaudible ). RESPONDENT A: Exactly. INVESTIGATOR: So, what is the most common news gathe red from non full time CNN staff? And, I am speaking more to the participatory news gatherers out there. RESPONDENT A: So, like, iReporters? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah. Yes, more in reference to that. RESPONDENT A: So, are you asking, like, the way they work? INVESTIGATOR: I guess so, yeah. Uh huh. RESPONDENT A: platforms like iReport like Twitter and YouTube and stly different. We see is the example of the, of the amateur reporter, like, the best example right now is a woman named Chris Morrow in San work, you know, she stays at home, and her husband is the main bread winner for her family, and she has a video camera and she goes around San Diego all day long finding happening in San Diego, and because her material is always ( inaudible of a quirky sensibility, and because her pieces are so visual tting them on ( laughter ) for CNN. Were it not for her highly visual and fascinating to see characters ( inaudible ), and she interviews escapes me right now, but this mural painter, he made, like,
Appendix B (Continued) 64 a big, famous whale mural in San Diego, and he made, like, the largest mural he had e Guinness World record ( laughter ), making this enormous Earth Day mural on top of stadium in San Diego in Long Beach, and, you know, her story was absolutely fantastic have heard about it. But the other thing, the complete other side inaudible ) who is, um, just, out of pure personal interest is taking a canoe trip down the Mississippi River and stopping along the way and trying t o find out from small and large communities along the river how they are being affected by the economic downturn, man who actually lost his job and chronicled his journey from the west coast back to his family on the east coast where he was gonna go live with his family so he could have a roof over his head. He lost his job and his home, and his iReports were not what you would typically as t ypical objective news reporting. It was a diary, essentially, of his personal experience, and I think they are all completely valid. Like, one of the real differences between news gathering in the traditional CNN sense and news gathering in iReport is th at, iReport, very often, tends to be, very often, first person and very subjective, and that traditionally is seen as kind of a no no, and um, you know, news gathering and reporting, when you can find out who the characters are and, like, add some context to their background and, like, why stories so much more interesting. People are incredibly passionate about the things they are reporting a bout because it affects the personally. It makes, just from a total consumer perspective, I much prefer watching those sorts of stories when somebody really cares through the storytelling, and what CNN adds is finding out who they are and why they think t he way they do, and you know, if you can just say INVESTIGATOR: Do you see any drawbacks or benefits from this process of allowing the public to have participation? RESPONDENT A: fits far outweigh the drawbacks, and the drawbacks are risk. You know,
Appendix B (Continued) 65 process that is normally, sort of, closed, guarded. The risks it s integrity as a news organization. If we get something wealth of perspective that you would never se in mainstream every place in the world where something interesting might happen. INVESTIGATOR: So, if someone were to ask you, what is iReport, what is the definition? RESPONDENT A: two way conversation between CNN and its audience that ultimately results in richer, deeper, more personally relevant stories for all of us. INVESTIGATOR: You might have already touched on this, but what do you see as being the value? RESPONDENT A: The value for iReport, for everyone, for iReporters to audience who may or m ay not be iReporters is that the News coverage is more interesting, and therefore, more important with iReport than without it. INVESTIGATOR: touched on, but what is the different between the content found on iReport, as opposed to the traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT A: objective. Because an iReport is almost invariably subjective, and because CNN is almost invariably objective, when you put them both together, you get the whole view of
Appendix B (Continued) 66 a story. INVESTIGATOR: Very good. How is it determined if an iReport submission has news value? RESPONDENT A: INVESTI GATOR: I guess especially because of the evolution, because you RESPONDENT A: ( Laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Right. Um, there are a coup le of ways that we measure that. One is, in the relaunch of 2008, we added in some algorithms that helped to track community activity over time. And, we used the activity and comments, rating, and all that kind of standard issue kind of stuff, to help el evate stories and help bubble things that have an algorithmical value know, we know, because there are people at CNN whose job it is to look fo rward and plan and, you know, think about what might be coming up and where we wanna focus our resources, we also, because of that, we have the iReport team take advantage of the planning and offer projects and assignments to iReport contributors based on what we know is coming so we can give people an opportunity to take part in something before CNN covers it, so that they can be part of it when the story ultimately comes out. INVESTIGATOR: Can you give me an example of that? RESPONDENT A: Um, sure. So, example, but we knew, of course, that the 40 th anniversary of the summer of love was, you know, coming up, and we were planning months and months ago. And, we knew everyone in the world would be talking about, oh my God the moon. So, how far has we come and what does that mean? So, what we did was, a few months ago in that editorial planning, star ted to let the iReport community know,
Appendix B (Continued) 67 now. And ultimately, encountered some really fascinating stories that nobody had ever heard about before, like, this kid who is 10 years old and live s in Panama. His dad worked with NASA, and as the astronauts were coming back from the moon, NASA actually lost communication with them for a minute, and it was because, you know, some tube had come undone or whatever, and this engineer and 10 year old so n with a really tiny arm, and the son with the really tiny arm literally stuck his arm into the, like, engineering apparatus and connected these two pieces back together so NASA could talk to the astronauts, which is, like, a nutty, awesome story. And, Ne il Armstrong ended up sending the sweet story, and he never talked about it, and that ended up being the centerpiece for the anniversary story, because ultimately, do you really wanna talk abo ut what happened? No. You wanna talk about, like, what it means for us today, what is news we can uncover. And, through iReporters who cast a real wide net to the entire world, you can help to uncover some of those stories. INVESTIGATOR: Very good. So who decides if an iReport submission is used on CNN, CNN.com, makes air or is actually featured on the Web site? RESPONDENT A: So, um, everybody ( laughter the ultimate decisions about, like, what goes into a block of program ming or a page on CNN.com is a decision left to a producer who is personally responsible for it. So, what the iReport team does is, we work with producers and correspondents around the company, we train about 600 people to learn how to, like, go through i Reports and vet them and know the tools and the rules. But, ultimately, what vetted and approved for use, and then we just pitch like most sense. So, we go directly to the Situation Room and say, we have something amazing for you; you should really producer who is resp onsible for the programming. INVESTIGATOR:
Appendix B (Continued) 68 every department, with every show, with every producer. RESPONDENT A: moments, where we a re talking to a writer, which is so important. INVESTIGATOR: Is there a process for monitoring content on iReport? RESPONDENT A: There is a process, but do you mean from, kind of, moderation? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, and how the Web site and how that plays i nto how the content is, I guess, gathered and monitored and vetted. RESPONDENT A: company to look at every piece of content as it comes in, like, immediately as it comes in, and, um, look at it against orial side of the house, which is, you know, official process for reviewing every single piece of content. I was about the vetting process, right? INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: into the vetting process, right? Like, with the moderators ( laughter just making sure. Like, um, the ( inaudible ) making part of the whole thing. But, okay, go ahead. And, sure the community guidelin es are, you know, followed and the community polices its own material and a flagging system, and you know, all that stuff. INVESTIGATOR: Right. RESPONDENT A: On that ( laughter ), you know, the vetting part of the house, e piece of content that
Appendix B (Continued) 69 comes in as it comes in. Instead, we felt that, what we talked about a little while ago, was to help bubble up, like, and important, and what CNN really needs to pay attention on top of the home page, you better believe everyone is looking at it and trying to make phone calls to vet that material. INVESTIGATOR: So, what is the process used to make sure the information is accurate? You talked about the hopes and, you know, you want to make sure the brand is protected by only featuring l, a big part of the traditional news gathering process is you have the reporter who fact checks and double checks, and that sort of thing. RESPONDENT A: Right. And, I know this is a little bit of a non answer, but the iReport as it is for from associate producers to reporters and correspondences p eople who are tasked in gathering and vetting news from all over the world, and when it comes to CNN, you know, iReport is just, you know, one other avenue. You know, learned, um, in our own iRepo rts specific vetting process, the cardinal rule is part of the vetting must involve getting in touch with the iReporter, which is obvious, right? You get in touch and you have a conversation, and you ask the same questions you would ask if you were standi ng on the street with that person and you were an eyewitness to an event. And then, we talk. Some of the other things we do is, we s pecific expertise in helping us determine the validity of a CNN has vast expertise in research for validating research, training process for iReport, we encourage and make sure everyone knows, like, who is available to help you, help you
Appendix B (Continued) 70 INVESTIGATOR: And, how does technology sort of play into the whole development of the cit izen journalism genre of news gathering, and is that a significant part of the whole operation as a technology piece of it? RESPONDENT A: in the tsunami happened the day after Christmas, um, gosh, have reporters on the beach waiting for that to happen. Like, all of the footage that ca me to CNN and every other news organization was from eyewitnesses and citizen reporters who happened to have video cameras. And, when CNN asked for that footage, what we got was video tapes. Like, people actually, physically mailed in video tapes of the amazing, like these huge bins full of, just, stacks of video happening for years and years and year. And, technology is, like, video enc oding and HTTP uploading and cell phone cameras just make that process so much simpler. And, iReport makes so much sense to launch when it did because of the increased adoption of small digital cameras and the ability to support HTTP uploading and video e ncoding, and you know, technology makes it all possible. But, the fact is, citizen reporting, of course, has been happening for years and years and years. I mean, the ( inaudible ) film is an amazing example from, what was it now, 45 years ago? INVESTIGATO R: you kind of spoke of this also, but, on developing relationships with iReport community members who submit content regularly and why is that important? RESPONDENT A: olutely critical. So much of what the iReport team does is develop and manage does so differently from some other huge outlets, is that, people who are iReport contributors are not just sources o f raw material; they are people. They are people who are part of the news and can help to tell that story. So, there are, you
Appendix B (Continued) 71 that would be on AC 360, it would be you, talking to Anderson Cooper on air and describing what you saw and describing, you know, who you are and why you were in that serous about that, that iRe port is people, and I believe it is, if s every day. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Is there a downside to allowing the public to share their media? RESPONDENT A: Um, yeah. I mean, the downside, like I said before, is the that, so far, ha model for encouraging people to share content and incorporating it with CNN. It allows CNN to maintain its integrity as a trusted news source. INVESTIGATOR: So, what factors prevent iReport submissions from bein g used by CNN? INVESTIGATOR: the same factors that prevent them from getting through the editorial vetting process, and those would be, um, you know, a lack of specific detail or concrete context f or information. makes it a non starter ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT A: And they are the same limiting factors that would apply to spondent in the from Jessica XXX or an iReporter. The same standards apply. INVESTIGATOR: Cool. Does the public have a role in decidin g what iReports make air? RESPONDENT A:
Appendix B (Continued) 72 INVESTIGATOR: Or, what content is featured? RESPONDENT A: Yeah. Well, see, the public has the primary role in deciding what iReports are featured. Um, everything that is up on the iReport home page is determ ined exclusively by community activity. So, it is the community that decides what floats to the top; and what floats to the top is what triggers CNN to, there are iReport has. And, you know, they can search and find something, and it may not have bubbled up to the top, but may be really fascinat person and incorporate their material into the package. And, it goes both ways, but as far as iReport.com is concerned, INV ESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: sides, you know, depending on the need of the story and the g enre and all that. But, the intention is that the already paying attention to. INVESTIGATOR: And it also, I mean, you mentioned, like, 6 00 staff who have been trained, but they all have access to go to iReport.com RESPONDENT A: Yeah, exactly. INVESTIGATOR: So, the last question. Does iReport represent a significant change in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT A: Yeah ( laughter )! Of course it does. Um, iReport technology behind news gathering, but more than that, it represents a change in the people who can contribute to the news. iReport is the way to participate with CNN in the
Appendix B (Continued) 73 something to say, who saw a story, to contribute it. And, um, for people to contribute. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT A: hear it from other people, is some of the really stellar examples of iReports that have made a difference in the way CNN has covered stories, and that may be something we can send to you and some other people will co ver it. But, I completely different because of the iReport contributions, the way the recent bombings in Jakarta were completely because of because, you know, eyewitness photography and on the gr ound interviews the moment it happened on AC 360, and Virginia Tech and the California wild fires and the Minneapolis bridge collapse, and the list is so long. And, I think those examples really tell the story better than, like, my philosophy of it can ( l aughter iReports themselves personalize the news so much that the stories speak for themselves. INVESTIGATOR: tween the traditional CNN staffers and the iReporters, I mean, they are, sort of, voluntarily sharing their content. RESPONDENT A: in tegration between iReport and ImageSource, which is ImageSource licenses content to the documentary film makers and basically anyone who is making video, which y of material, into that library, and every time an iReport gets sold through ImageSource, CNN shares the revenue with the iReporter.
Appendix B (Continued) 74 INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Absolutely. Absolutely. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: Okay. Awesome. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT A: inaudible rattle on and on and on. ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 75 Respondent B 8 26 09 ( Muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: respondents for this study. RESPONDENT B: INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT B: INVESTIGATOR: m just going to run through this questionnaire with all the questions, whatever, we will just go through them. So, how long have you worked in news and what is your overall experience? RESPONDENT B: rted at Headline News as a VJ, um, a video journalist, um, which is sort of an entry level job. Um, I was there for five years, basically on the TV side as a writer. I produced shows, and um, then I came to CNN.com in 1999 and was working on the mobile t hing, which was basically typing Twitter before there was Twitter ( laughter ). Um, 130, 140 character entries for, like, pagers and mobile phones because that was a huge job contract in the early days of CNN.com before. obs I did when I started out have been replaced by a, um, piece of technology. Um, publishing a story. But, prior to them figuring that o ut, it was something, you know, you had to have someone do, so that became my job ( inaudible ) ( muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: So, what does that involve? Amani Channel: Respondent:
Appendix B (Continued) 76 RESPONDENT B: Basically you took, you would distill whatever the big stories were into a text message that was short enough to fit on either a pager at the time or, you know, mobile phone, Nokia phones, those were like 136 characters, I think. Like I said, that, you know ( laughter )? INVESTIGATO R: Yes. RESPONDENT B: all over the news room at this point. Um, I was a writer for the legal section, and after September 11, obviously all hands went on that, so we went, um, started covering investigation with that and just general writing. Um, in the run up to the Gulf War, I was part of the team. They assigned me to a producer, and we basically covered the run up to the middle of t he Iraq War 2003, so basically, we would know what the new developments were for the previous day so there would be continuity in the coverage. So, we wrote, um, you know, all the Iraq stuff, I mean, all of the U.N. stuff, we followed that every day. The n, they laughter )? So, it was like all that, we had to learn about the war stuff, so I did that for about a year and then, um, we took the same model and moved into election coverage, um, for the 2004 election. And then, I was in sections and sort of did a little bit of everything. Basically I was the fill in producer, so whoever was on vacation, I would handle that on the side. and eight months, a nd was basically, initially the producer. of an interface between the community and us, sort of the point person for that. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT B: because importance is a sliding scale, I mean, it can be very shown is t to me is, like, irrelevant trivia to you ( laughter ). So, I think
Appendix B (Continued) 77 basically. INVEST IGATOR: academic definition of what news is: proximity, how many RESPONDENT B: I mean, certainly, to that level there are some things that are gger news story to more ( laughter bigger deal to more people than a car accident on I 75, but how incredibly to, like, five people, but you know, or something whe re the interesting parts come in. INVESTIGATOR: So, who determines what is newsworthy? RESPONDENT B: have a role, a major component of that. You know, speaking specifically with iReport. I mean, we look at things and go, okay, this is really interesting either because it affects a lot of it a little bit more. But, a lot of times the community has a good power to surface stuff, you know, by discussing it or sharing it. So, a lot of the stuff that winds up in the I would have picked all the time, and you know, I mean, we nna pretend how to understand how those formulas work. But their intrigue enough to, you know, click on the link. So in bination, basically, of the, you know, highlight what we think is the best content. And then, we think is
Appendix B (Continued) 78 interesting and newsworthy and turn it into CNN content sometimes I get something I feel completely passionate about, that this is a gr eat story that people will be really group we think, oh, this is something we wanna do, or this furthers, you know, some editorial goal, or we wanna show ans wer ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT B: out of this. And, you know, if we see something, you know, INVESTIGATOR: current position you play in the decision making process of what is done w ith the content? RESPONDENT B: y, you know, this laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT B: But, you know, or so
Appendix B (Continued) 79 may be that we chuck the idea when we think of a cooler what do you think of Ted Kennedy? And then people send stuff in, and we go, do you wanna do with all this stuff? Uh, we wanna sort of go, okay, we can do this, we can make a slide show, we can write a story. And then, we may do something, oh my gosh, excited about it, you know, or give a better idea. But we try found that when we don it might be a loose, like, written on a newspaper plan, then you get paralyzed? INVESTI GATOR: Right. RESPONDENT B: the back to people who are doing good work to make sure know we appreciate them so they will continue to, you know, also, on the negative side of that coin, sort of discouraging, ior, trying to weed that out technically editorial stuff, but it adds to the ( inaudible ) bad hate speech. You know, I mean, you can look on our site, and so I go through and make sure that they are, you know, hous e and punch them in the head, but ( laughter ), you
Appendix B (Continued) 80 you know, make sure they are on the same page. And, even that, oh, this absolutely should happen. And, you know, erybody has a my personal morality or an individual INVESTIGATOR. And, importa But, in his role, as the community manager, when he interacts ( inaudible ), to do it right, making sure that they RESPONDENT B: RESPONDENT B: Yeah, that they understand, also just sort of letting people know, sort of, hey, this is why this happened and try to avoid, you know, dust ups. Like, why are you doing this? Well, know, because sometimes people get really passionate and being the opposite. and be driven off because people are so horrible to them. And then, their voice is, sort
Appendix B (Continued) 81 for entirely too long ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: So, based on your past experience, explain the traditional selection process in a typical broadcast news room or network or whatever your experience lends itself to. RESPONDENT B: when I was a news room producer, basically what you do is you have the packages that came in, you know, that the reporter has been working on, and those priorities would have been set earlier in the day, you know, within various meetings. I worked at Headline News, which was, at the time, you know, it was the wheel, basically the 15 minutes segments. So, you would get two or t hree packages and then you would, sort of, stack your show around those packages. By the time I left, it was two packages and a weather ( inaudible ). But, you would sort of go, well, my the top, bec one point, there was, you would try to have the stories flow, about something, you talk about healthcare reform because he was big in that, and then go on to something else after it, a sound bite or something. Then, they did something t, so that was, in a way, particularly when I was doing four shows a day, you could just sort of go ( laughter ), you know what I mean, and you sort of mix it up with a little bit of international, with a little bit of national stuff to, sort of, keep people through, like, two minutes of international stuff on Headline News, so they tried to break some of that up. So, I mean, sort of, the network would get on as far as here. I mean, we usually would go through, and we s what you know, where it will fit in the day. Like, there might be
Appendix B (Continued) 82 b would be that story, and then by afternoon, maybe like Ted acy. You know, so, that roles into, um, you know, that sort of one of the things that goes into the thought process. INVESTIGATOR: So generally, when you talk about the traditional selection process, does that mean it is very standardized in terms of how on a day to day basis, news is selected? Or, is that the breaking news? With regard to the decision making, who decides what is newsworthy? RESPONDENT B: I can speak to the really broad, be INVESTIGATOR: Right. RESPONDENT B: lot of things you know. NASA, you know, is trying to launch a space shuttle. ( Inaudible ). So, you know that they planning to do a shuttle launch on, you know, the 25 th You know that Congress is going into recess. So, you know, happen. Do we wanna talk about it? You know, what do we wanna do about it? An they look at, um, things that are ge tting interest online, sort INVESTIGATOR: How has the Internet or technology changed news gathering practices? RESPONDENT B: I think, I mean, I remember not having the Internet in the was doing a box office story at
Appendix B (Continued) 83 movie, and ( inaudible movie? I spent 20 minutes trying to prove it, you know, that it was probably his first staring rol e or whatever, I spent 20 minutes trying to find that information without the Internet, there are things like that, and now you can just go, Imdb, and, you know. So, in some cases, things like that are things like that, more stuff surfaces that you might not would was i n the New York Times, it must be important, kind of, mentality. Or, you sort of, you know, how people got something, and everybody is chasing us, or, you know, I Boing, this might be good, as opposed to, sort of, spread out, sort of, where you find information. Or, I was reading something, you know, oh neat, somebody linked to a lady on Urban Gardener or something. That might be a cool story. You see a lot of t his. know, going through wire copy, but I think it does, even just finding how to get in touch with somebody or just getting basic information, is considerably easier, I think, in a lot of ways. INVESTIGATOR: What is the most common way news is gathered by non full time teams and staffing. ( Inaudible ) to the iReporters than to free lancers? RESPONDENT B: and they go out and shoot it with whatever they have $30,000 Beta rig, or, you know, maybe not that, but a high out and, um, you know, do interviews or sort of mini documentaries and submit those, whether they think of
Appendix B (Continued) 84 ut this, or because they just wanted to talk about this. Um, there are some people who are, sort of, pundits and just put their thoughts about what they think about something, either on a that, sor t of, comment on, you know, part of a discussion and made friends on this site and so they, sort of, keep up with you know, partici pate in the conversation, and it may be that experience; this is INVESTIGATOR: So, are there benefits or drawbacks to this process? RESPONDENT B: everywhere. If we doubled our staff in Africa, we could still if you double your staff in Atlanta, we could go month, he, um, was an underwater photographer and he worked with Mel Fisher, the famous treasure hunter out in big sling under it and lift it out of the water and put it into an aquarium type tank as a tourist attraction in Buffalo. And, the War of 1812, it was like, um, you know, sort of connected cities along the coast, and apparently, they think it sank doing a, um, running slaves, escaped slaves to Canada and freedom during, you know, by abolitionists, because there it was off the books, you know, involved in the abolitionist mean, if you were reading the Albany paper, I think it was
Appendix B (Continued) 85 Albany or Buffalo, maybe you saw that story, but most We had or something, it was like, do you cover your tattoos at work, it was a living story and completely frivolous. So, we asked people to send their iReports, and we got a bunch of ugly pictur es of tattoos, you know, some bad ink ( laughter ). But, You know, ( inaudible tattoo, and she had taken the letter her, um, husband had written in case anything happened to him in Iraq, and had exact quite wha t to do with it at the time because we were still something you get unless you just happen to see that in the beautiful, and that happens all the time. I mean, we had a guy send pictures of his dolphin in Florida who lost its tail in an accident, and, you know, he had, like, worked at the aquarium and he would take pictures of it and, like, they sent it to kids, you know, with disabilities, you know, interact with this tail less dolphin. And, you know, they would start saying, this dolphin can do it without a tail, I can get along who was, like, making a rubber tail. He was, like, you k now, about this dolphin that I found in the discard bin yesterday, and I was, like, oh my God, we did an iReport on this! So, I mean, it, season, and, um, um, you know, getting, you know, sort of a
Appendix B (Continued) 86 book report story. Like, flu se whispering nobody had their heart set on, and that nobody really wondered where you ( inaudible o do it. And, usually some were interesting stories, but they were you can get a person, you know, Mary Smith or, you know, stood at the bus stop for her first day of school, her backpack littered with crayons, glue sticks, folders, and four bottles of hand sanitizer. School officials are concerned, but, you know, you can put a person there right up front, and get a picture of little Mary at the bus stop, and her mom talking about, yeah, I word ( inaudible )? INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT B: But, I mean, you know, as opposed to just the dry, this story that we can include these facts, and then it enhances it and sets us apart from other story telling. got something interesting in their lives, and finding it is the hard part. And people will, you know, they might n ot even would you like a video of this? Yes, please ( laughter ). And, s yeah, well I, well I was in the Bay of Pigs, so I really, you and it that it just really gives us an opportunity to tell more interesting stories, or let people tell their own stories. INVESTIGATOR: And, the drawbacks?
Appendix B (Continued) 87 RESPONDENT B: somebody with an amazing story and an okay picture, like a grainy cell phone picture or something they pulled off the Internet with this amazing story. Or, you know, I mean, you someone who has been doing it for 20 years and is the best laughter then you get just, you know, me, you know, with a video look like they, you know, the David Letterman monkey cam with the insurmountabl can say, hey, can you send some more? Or, um, interview u sit there and go, oh, I into the notes. Like, when we edit, you know, or talk to som eone, we say, hey, we talked to this person, and they just their l amazing ( laughter INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT B: I mean, bla, bla, bla, bla, yeah, I was ( inaudible ) for a year, yeah, could be. B
Appendix B (Continued) 88 really well. And then, he sent, you know, a photo that he took, and then he did a video with his Web cam, and then he did some editing, and, you know, then he got a dream screen ( laughter ) to put in the background, you know, from Wal he, just a digital camera. He shot a nine part adventure series, sort of like spy, comedy thing, uh, with a digital camera and okay. Um, and you know, so you get people you see and that was cute, or hey, that got a lot better. And, awesome! So, I mean, and people on the team they go, look that, running around doing laughter )! I mean, you know, we know this person, you know, we letting other people do your work because you have to sometimes, like, did this incident happen ( laughter )? I
Appendix B (Continued) 89 S VOICE: there, like, or, the general had to get out, or they had to leave, then these people were having us tell the story ( inaudible RESPONDENT B: Yeah, and then, but we were still runnin g it through our go, to our producers in Iran, and say, does this jive with what w, i you are having to, you know, take extra steps to make sure that the person, you know, is representing themselves properly. INVESTIGATOR: Okay, cool. So, explain what iReport is ( laughter ). RESPONDENT B: content platform, which is, um, you know, well, it encourages people, um, to share their stories. And, one of the things is into a conversation versus a lecture or where CNN is telling Or, you know, share their stories and opinions or views of the basically, people started using the commen ts, and sort of learned since doing this is, people will figure out a way to connect with each other.
Appendix B (Continued) 90 INVESTIGATOR: Hmm. RESPONDENT B: things, hey, how you doing? Well, I gotta run my kid off to soccer h hey, good to hear from you. created a post, like, you know, pointless conversation, because they got tired of, like, they felt bad about derailing the conversations that were on the thread, so it was just, like, and they just visited, and it went on for a year. This one post, they were just, sort of, congregating, and, how ya doing? And, like, 6,000, I mean, we were watching it just to see how big it would get and whether it would break the system ( l aughter group early on, and basically they called themselves the Midnight Bunch, because it was a bunch of p eople who in Sri Lanka who, you know, with the time change, was up in the middle of the day, and they would, sort of, be on the site at the same times and notice each other and start talking. An collections, you know, what do you collect? And, we found out she collected Barbies. So, then we had, um, Jamie great! They got to be friends and she sent her some Barbies that she got from Dollar General or whatever, Toys R Us in Knoxville. But, you know, you know, whatever, Lanka, and she sent her these, you know, holiday Barbie o r Are you gonna talk about the artist ( inaudible ) in New York? RESPONDENT B: you know, some people were wanting to do some exhibits of
Appendix B (Continued) 91 their work for iReport. Um, we people, some iReporters in Columbus had a barbeque ( laughter and more of a citizen journalism thing, that I think it more separate, not iReport, but it was, you know, an iReporter sort of thi job because someone saw her photography and said, hey, we fully understood how it was gonna happen and how it in the news. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT B: gathering thing and people talking, but then people talking about the news and making connections with each other, as well. So, talking with us and with each other. INVESTIGATOR: This might have been answered in your previous response, but what is the value of iReport? RESPONDENT B: Well, like I said, I think, in short, it makes news a conversation, ins tead of just a lecture, you know, us telling what do you think is important? And sometimes, you get
Appendix B (Continued) 92 powerful responses from them or things you w have a group of like minded people making the decisions, you know, because then you, sort of, all get a group think have be en aware of forever, and this just makes it, like, well, what about this? So, this, not fight each other, but, you know, fight the temptation to, sort of, move along from just your perspective, and this just opens up that perspective even farther. INVEST IGATOR: as opposed to traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT B: about, as I could show it to you, but there was a slide we used in a lot one picture in the slide. And, the other picture is a guy iReport does, is it shows you that this affects this many people, you know, and this affects you. And, I think you can tell the story from the inside, because a lot of times, when can be. You know, and, like, so you get people who are on flooding, we had a guy, you know, send a video of himself canoeing to his house and, I think through his house ( laughter took the canoe in, but he could have. Um, and, I mean, you know, even somebody from, you know, downtown Atlan ta would, or, you know, that sort of thing. So, I mean, you get
Appendix B (Continued) 93 that sort of person, kind of, inside the story, and I think it otherwise. INVESTIGATOR: So, how do you determine if an iReport submissio n has news value? RESPONDENT B: the bar of whether we should chase it, I think is big. g a little conversation, it may be a small number, like four or five because they got it off their chests, what they wanted to talk one of the nice things about all the stories going to before iReport.com launch ed, it would come to us, and we would go after the stuff we thought was important, and the other stuff was hidden. You know, it was in a server that no hing to, you know, great. You know, if few people are interested in def try to think of, you know, where can we use this? So, you know, this would be good on the travel page; this would be good on the living pa ge, um, or whatever. Or, you know, all the stuff we approve. But, um, we try to, you know, if the, you know, the ones that are the most interesting. And, a with the China earthquakes, we had pictures of broken glass and a puddle of blood, and, but, the story that was writte n with it was very good, it was very well written. So, I got in he sent them, and they were great. And, um, it turned out he
Appendix B (Continued) 94 later, but um, it turned out he was an American living in China. He did English language broadcasts on the radio on the side, so he had a really good speaking voice when he did phone interviews, and he just decided he needed to know what was going on. So, he got on his motorcycle, drove out into the countryside and sent us these amazing pictures and stories. INVESTIGATOR: Wow. RESPONDENT B: picture w a little deceptive. You know, not laughter okay. Um, but I mean we basically go through and, sort of, look at the stories to figure out, yo u know, does this match, A sense of wonder is, you know, very important in determining INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Follow up question, then. Who decides an iReport submission is used on a CNN broadcast or CNN.com? RESPONDENT B: INVESTIGATOR: Okay. RESPONDENT B:
Appendix B (Continued) 95 just going out and finding stuff. Um, CNNi has a w hole show, the iReport for CNN, and their producers are just to doing a lot of Internet and iReport stuff, and the they can get excited about it. You know, because th ere me, you go, this is really good. And, I go, wow, that is really INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT B: okay, thi between, you know, the producers and some of, you laughter yeah! like, yes I do, but then other people are going, hey you got this, I a this is good. And, you know, admittedly, we get really ( laughter e to see people are starting to get,
Appendix B (Continued) 96 INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT B: inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: So, well 14. Is there a process for monitoring content on iReport and could you explain? RESPONDENT B: Um, but, what do you mean by monitoring? INVESTIGA TOR: Maybe just talking about the day to day, like, how you guys news happen s, like, every day. RESPONDENT B: ish, w, between the know, CNN on the super desk who are well trained and that? Or, so mebody might have to head down on a project today, she is not there, she is working on her video, and the rest of us will, sort of, you know, go through and keep an eye on stuff. Some people wil l, hey, I sent something, send an e keep the wires going in the back, you know, in your consciou sness so that, you know, if something happens, you
Appendix B (Continued) 97 INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT B: competi tion, or just watching the wires to make sure that INVESTIGATOR: Right. RESPONDENT B: ready, and we just do that ( la ughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT B: INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What is the process you use to ensure that iReport content used for broadcast on CNN or CNN.com is accurate, truthful or meets th e news casting standards? RESPONDENT B: we go through and we do the same thing if y with any source, really. You know, who are you? Why do you have this, you know, why did you take this picture? You of call the weather unit and say, hey, does this look right to you picture, we rea a political..you know, we can talk to our affiliates desk and say, hey, do you know anything about this? You know, iliates. I mean, know, did this happen? I mean, you know, did the space
Appendix B (Continued) 98 checklist of questions to, sort of, you know, verify and get the basic information, um, in addition, and then, go on to, sort of, then they get something off the Internet. Um, we have to to talk to this person if it all checks out. And, you know, ure of a back ( laughter thos e deals where we interview them as a basic source, and then we can go to, you know, basically anybody at CNN, on in a region, like, you know, does this sound right to you? He says, yeah, that sounds right. And, or, yeah, I saw that picture in four different newspapers, you know. So, I know, going into too much boring detail INVESTIGATOR: So, I kind of alluded to this, but is there a focus on helping relationships with iReport community members who submit content regularly and why? RESPONDENT B: bring them by, and say, hey, come on in, you know, show them around, visit with them, get to know the people. Um, we have, um, our viewer content management people send gifts, you know, periodically, like a T shirt or like a sling bag or something to peop le who have done something really above and beyond or consistently doing mail is on the site, so if they have questions, they can e mail me, know, my e mail. My phone number is out there, and
Appendix B (Continued) 99 getting ready to do or brainstorm, or we starte d it as, sort of, hey, are there any issues we need to talk about? You know, So, we have people come in, and so they get to talk to each other there and get to, you know, oh hey, how you doing? So we get, sort of, the same. So, yeah, the relationships are and I think CNN. Um, it makes us less intimidating, I think, because when people see someone do an i Report and it gets used on to me, and I try to be a decent guy, you know, not scary, hopefully, as opposed to James Earl Jones go ing, this is CNN ( laughter broadcast professional to be special and valued and that sort of thing. So, I think that building the relationship is very key. INVESTIGATOR: I s there a down side to allowing the public to share their media, to seeing it? RESPONDENT B: things, their opinions, that are less than, brief silence a inaudible ). somebody s ays something awful, and then, two other people
Appendix B (Continued) 100 potential down sides, but as far as the a each other, which is disappointing, you know. But, I th that, because it does, you know, sort of drive a conversation, answering that ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). You did. What factors prevent iReport submissions from being used by CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT B: cam you can run this silent, or we can run it by legal and see if we can use it. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT B: know if amazing is the right word, but it was some really cool footage of the track an d field things last weekend where ( inaudible ) was beating everyone, and there was all kinds of of, you know, TV rights or whateve r. You know, like, the Olympics, the entire China was copyrighted ( laughter ). I there were all kinds of restrictions, like, the outsides of the INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT B:
Appendix B (Continued) 101 extreme version of that. But, I mean, usually, frankly, most the abundance of riches kind of thing, y ou know, more money than you can spend, which is unfortunate in the sense that some people send in something really great, and something amazing, but we had three things that were almost have an iReport network and just show cool iReport out. t his stuff ( inaudible ). You know, one thing about iReporters is that they have a unique opportunity to ( loud movement in room ) their iReport questions like we use in several specials. RESPONDENT B: Uh huh. Right, I mean, have you seen th at? Like, ( inaudible ), they had a your reaction special, like, for like the first black president in America. Or, like, iReporters would submit their questions that would be used in the Situation Room. And ( muffled noise RESPONDENT B: An example of t hat was, um, Obama, like, on the Friday after the election, um, I think it was Jordan ( inaudible ) that asked president elect Obama, um, a question on the Situation Room. You know, like, Obama was pretty busy, so, you know, the fact that Wolf Blitzer got t o talk to him on that graduate from Morehouse got to ask him a question and get brain, so I apologize. But yeah, it was a guy, he was a relatively recent college graduate, and he was a really talented kid, and that was the question they picked for president Obama. Or, you know, Mich ael Phelps, right after
Appendix B (Continued) 102 know, a couple of, three iReporters got to ask him questions. I mean, so I mean, that is another thing that, you kn ow, we have got to do. INVESTIGATOR: So, does the public have a role in deciding what iReports make it? RESPONDENT B: exact, but of the most page views, whether we approved it or all of laughter ). And, um, but, that all weights together in sort of a metric so the users can grab that from the top of iReport.com. And, we look at that, and our producers se mail that goes out with, sort of, mean, like, trends kind of information. So, people say, hey, this is getting a lot of buz may use that on my show. So, I mean, in that sense, they where a user will say, hey, you need to check this out. This ck that out. That is cool. gets on the air. That would be cool ( laughter this should be INVESTIGATOR: Does iReport present a significant change in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT B: I think so. Um, in the sense that, instead of, you know, B person or something that you see going on, something rises to our attention, and then you go out and cover it. Um, or go out and try to
Appendix B (Continued) 103 always been the, sort of, beginning stage of journalism since PR person or a reporter to get on there. It can be just someone says, I had a question about something, and to tell 140. I mean, we had an iReporter do that, and then several other people a couple of times, you know, he started talking about her basically opened up what we already do, to everyone. And gonna go see it. And, I got this video. And, that actually think anybody was hurt. Um, but, you k journalists have always done. You go, something happened, ( inaudible ) did the same thing ( laughter ). You know, but, more people bringing it to our attention, sort of taking it thing that an iReporter did, or we use that to inform our it dramatically as far as what do you think, as opposed to INVESTIGATOR: Right. RESPONDENT B: do polling for that. I mean, again, iReports is a very spend a lot of money hiring pundits and pollsters to tell what the average person things, when you can get what the ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: What are the different kind of reports an iReports person can submit?
Appendix B (Continued) 104 RESPONDENT B: They can send p hotos, um, audio and video. They have to could use that. And basically, we can take however they it, of course. If they tell you something interesting, you can use what they tell you, or if they, you know, um, you know, if witness said and an iReporter submitted. So, it can even be know, basically, once we confirm, you know, verify, the information, we can, sort of, use it, um, in different ways, INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT B: plan is great because of this, and you c an transcribe that, or you could just edit those together into a video explaining it, INVESTIGATOR: Great questions. Okay. RESPONDENT B: Thank you very much. INVESTIGATOR: N o problem. ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 105 Respondent C 9 2 09 (AUDIO STARTS ABRUPTLY.) ( Muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ) a inaudible ) and iReports, mainstream adoption and all of that. RESPONDENT C: Okay. INVESTIGATOR: thing. RESPONDENT C: Okay. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT C: Okay. INVE STIGATOR: So, this is participant C, for the record. How long have you worked in news and what is your background and experience? RESPONDENT C: school, really, and so, um, you know, in high scho ol, I was and I worked with, uh, AFN, which is an armed forces network, just to make things, I was a high school student. In college, I was a newspaper kid, like, managing editor, campus edito r, college newspaper, and studied journalism since as far as that, at least having, sort of being involved in news production. Professionally, though, CNN was my first for 7 years. Amani Channel: Respondent: C C
Appendix B (Continued) 106 INVESTIGATOR: What would be your definition of news? RESPONDENT C: My definition of news, um, is, is, actually really kind of simple. I think news is just a good story, you know? And, is that enough? Is that okay, a short answer like that? INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT C: but I think news is, um, news is really subjective. And, I thi the same as the person sitting next to me. And, so, you ies, in terms of what people find interesting. Ultimately, I think news can be anything digital technology, and it has more to do with your personal interests and less to do with, like, what, what some producer ce iPod that day, then I would be about, um, Swine Flu, you know? Even though Swine Flu probably is an important ly news, you know? Day, day six of producers are saying. INVESTIGATOR: What roles have you served here at CNN before coming to iRepo rt? How long have you been at iReport? What else have you done here at CNN? RESPONDENT C: Well, I started as a VJ, which is an entry level position for television writer. So, writing scripts for T V, 30 second, 45 second scripts. Um, teases and opens and things like that. And, I did a little bit of segment producing for television. Um, before I got involved with iReport, and I got involved a month
Appendix B (Continued) 107 rom the very, very beginning, um, on a very small editorial team. So, launched in August, uh, second, 2006. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what would you say your role is in the decision making proces s of content in your current position? RESPONDENT C: by title, by definition, I guess, I make a lot of the decision about what assignments we make. Um, you know, what iReport assignments, in ask people, and, um, I make those decisions based on a lot editorial priority. Is it a story we wanna tell? Is it a story nce for the user? Um, I work closely with the community manager and the rest of the alone, though, not at all. We actually make a lot of decisions ng and a lot of collaboration. INVESTIGATOR: So, based on your past experience, could you explain the traditional selection process and the typical network RESPONDENT C: Well, I think, just in a very br oad sense, that the traditional down, but the relationship between the user and the news traditionally has been the producer are making the decisions, either on the stories, um, and especially in televisi on, on the TV side, learning how to build a rundown, it was, you know, th e, sort of like, um, a general interest story here, and so forth. And, it seemed a little regimented, and it was always decided by the producers. When I made the switch to online, what I learned is that there are actually a lot hat are the top stories and what on the home page, those decisions are still being made by ecause
Appendix B (Continued) 108 we have, like, up to date information that tells us how people are reacting to it, we have, you know, first of all we have whether or not people are gravitating towards it. We also have comments, and people can give us instant feedback, like, whether they like this story, or whether they are engaged in this story. So, we have that, kind of, real time well. And sometimes, not a lways, but sometimes, that information will decide what happens to that story made, like, for T1, for instance. So, um, a lot more involvement on the Web. I mean, iReport, I feel like it takes me kind of assignments we wanna tell and the kind of stories, cation on the table for, tell us, tell us an are our own readers, our own viewers, and in some cases, they are freelance journalists, a nd in other cases, they are ploads that on the wherever you live and tell a really interesting story. You could upload it to iReport, and a CNN producer could see that content, and you know what? That may have made it into the rundown of your show, or it may even go on the home page of CNN.com, depending on how good it is. And, all; it just came from our own viewers. INVESTIGATOR: Okay, an d that sort of falls into the next question. How has the Internet changed news gathering practices? RESPONDENT C:
Appendix B (Continued) 109 even pretend to t ry to know that answer, but, you know, from and the user have gone away because of the Internet. I some steps hopefully in the future to even make it even a more intimate connection. You know, like, um, I think with be shared, obviously, more readily and easier. People can participate, now, in the news gathering and the news sharing is a huge on e. If you look at, I mean, if you look at social media, the explosion just in the last few years as an them not only just to, like, consume your product, and in this case, read your story, but you w ant them to also share it with a friend, put their own, add their own perspective to it. And, in the case with iReport, actually, ( inaudible ) in the news gathering. So, um, I think those are, those are some good INVESTIGATOR: Oka y. Fair enough. What is the most common way news is gathered? You know, this question is from non full time CNN staff, but, I think the question is, what is the most common way news is gathered from iReporters? RESPONDENT C: I think the most common way obvious, and sometimes, it can be really not obvious and rent approaches. Um, it could be as obvious as, right now, tell this big story? Well, you know, the traditional way would be we go, get out there, and we get our affiliates, and we, you know, get this perspective. And then, you know, because of things like iReport, it can be, oh, we were over in smoke, or whatever. You kno w, I mean, the idea is that we
Appendix B (Continued) 110 everywhere at once, so, by inviting your viewers, inviting anybody to participate in that and share information, then, um, then hopefully, it helps give us something extr a. It improves our own story telling, you know? And, the end result is a better, more interesting, more personal coverage. like, how do we make this story personal? How do we make this story i nteresting? We need a real person in this story. Um, whereas traditionally, you might be working a beat and about the Swine Flu, you k now. Well, um, through an iReport assignment, we might just put it out there and say, c onstantly trying to feel that out and see what is it? What is do you engage the audience around that? Those are all tends to be the way that it happ ens most on the site, but not everything. Um, we have a lot of iReporters who, um, do their own enterprise journalism on their own, and they, they find stories on their own, and then they submit those stories, We have several iReporters who will go so far as to let us know ahead ship workers about this, and there is a story I wanna tell. And, through certain things and discuss with them, like, story angles and story ideas and hopefully make it better. So, registered users on the site now, but with a handful of really, sort of ambitious iReporters, we do have that relationship. INVESTIGATOR: So, what are the benefits or drawbacks t o the process of collecting, soliciting content?
Appendix B (Continued) 111 RESPONDENT C: many, many things. It can be an eyewitness to major breaking news. But, then it could also be, it could also be a fresh perspective on a news story. So, you know, um, if ry, if and, um, everyone is asking the question, how is this going to affect me? Or, what does this mean to me? And, you know, in some cases, iReporters have offered up that kind of question specifically how this is gonna affect me. And, um, then, like the medical unit will actually use that as an example in a way to get into this conversation. And, if offered, sort of, a fresh, uh, look at thi obvious things, right? You know, it can offer, in some cases, never before seen images of a major breaking news event. Or, in the case of the Virgin ia Tech, uh, shooting, the only images of a major breaking news, you know? In that case, that video was the only video that exists of that was happening as the drama was unfolding, you know, the a really big example, but one that, from a news gathering The other benefits of iReports is that you can do fun, crowd sourcing projects, you know? You can ask a questions that affects a lot of people, and you can put it out there and say, last summer, when it was getting up to five dollars and a really great assignment, because we put it out there and said, go out and take pictures of what gas prices are where we got was all these incredible stories, like, well, we are, you know, someone in Iowa. Well, we started ridin g our bike to through iReport, we were able to, in a relatively, um, quick time, able to get that kind of, get that kind of information
Appendix B (Continued) 112 back from our own viewers, that interesting perspective and stories. So, a lot of times through iReport, we will find And, that would be the other benefit, I would say. For cyst in her spinal area, and, um, th ey removed it successfully, but because of the surgery, she, um, basically, was paralyzed under, uh, for a while, and is now having to learn how to walk again, teach her body how to do that. documentin of her working out. So, this is a really interesting story, one mean, in a traditional sen se, we may have heard about it. and they can relay it, and all of a sudden, a sharp news iReport, we have producers who are constantly looking f or those kind of gems where we can identify that and say, you know what, this is really interesting what this person is doing. We can turn that into a story and bring it to even a wider audience, and in some cases, bring attention to, um, an world, potentially, you know, if it goes on, like, our television network. INVESTIGATOR: Any drawbacks? Any perceived drawbacks? Any organizational drawbacks? RESPONDENT C: think, how do you, um, get a communi ty to rally around something? How do you make everyone feel that their very much one of being an advocate between the news room and the again, the challenge is that, you develop this relationship
Appendix B (Continued) 113 pulled, you know, getting the news here and here? So, you want to give them really good and h been better here, or sometimes you find yourself in a people, hey, this is really good. Seriously. If you belie ve in inaudible ) and and sell it, at some point, to the people who are making the decis iReport, except that we are in that position of being the community is where our biggest challenges are right now. I think that, we wan t to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and safe, and feels their stant struggle for us, to make that a significant, um, experience, user something in an assignment, and a user follows those instructions and produces something, well then we damn well better make sure we do everything we can that that gets incorporated into our news coverage. And, what I think that, in our you know? and ask it that way? I mean, we used to say, well, yeah, see how the community responds. And, what we learned is know? Um, you asked me to share my personal story about Well, I did that, a use my report. Or, there were 20 submissions, and you only
Appendix B (Continued) 114 INVESTIGATOR: So, what is iReport? RESPONDENT C: What is it? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah ( laughter ). RESPONDENT C: think. iReport Right? ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT C: place to share your story, directly with CNN producers and with the world, you know, with the community. Um, iReport abl e to share and talk about news that matters to you. INVESTIGATOR: Right. Sure. And the values? RESPONDENT C: ng trouble with this one. I think that, uh, the ( Whispering ). ( Inaudible ). ( Laughter right? RESPONDENT C: Yeah. RESPONDENT C: INVESTIGATOR: When I say wh INVESTIGATOR: you.
Appendix B (Continued) 115 RESPONDENT C: ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT C: INVESTIGATOR: ugh ( inaudible ). RESPONDENT C: think that we find so many through, by just opening the doors and allowing people through iReports to be a part of that. hopefully, trade that, like our direct connection. And then, al wall between the news room and the reader, you know, the viewer, I think iRepo connecting that audience and getting t hem involved, and I INVESTIGATOR: Is there a difference between user generated content as opposed to citizen journalism? RESPONDENT C: journalism, I think can mean I think, uh, while there are people on iReport who are journalists, you know, I would call them journalists, because what a good story is, they can tell a good story. We have some users that can
Appendix B (Continued) 116 they can give you all the information and the facts like a real professional would. But, the vast majority of our necessarily trained journalists. Um, they can be eye witnesses to news, or they can just be people who care and plumbers. So, I think with citizen journalism, it can can put that on my blog. I wanna create my own news mples of that And, I feel like that, when I think of citizen journalism, I think of, sort of, like the backpack journalist out there doing that. And, while we do have some people that post iR eports like We want it to be really inclusive to anybody. You know, you interest in being a journalist, or you might have an opinion on n interesting, you know. Right now, this week is the 70 th anniversary of the start of World War II, so we are inviting me really incredible people share just a person that wants to experience. INVESTIGATOR: as opposed to traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT C: INVESTIGATOR: I know between content on iReport as opposed to traditionally gathered news on the network or on broadcast or on CNN.com? RESPONDENT C: the norma l process, and I think that the stuff you see on
Appendix B (Continued) 117 have a certain amount of training, then it goes through a producer that, you know, assign worked with a writing producer, then it goes through copy edit, and then it gets the full treatment from our full is huge, and there are a lot of elements that can come into INVESTIGATOR: How do you determine if an iReport submission has news value? RESPONDENT C: A couple ways. One is, um, one is just, like, I guess, just interesting to know, an example of one that happened a couple of weeks ago, there was someone that put up a video, and they were talking about this billboard, this PETA billboard, I think it was in California, and the layout, it was like, save a whale, eat vegetables. And, it had a really obese person was, like, on the billboard, and it was offensive to some pe ople. Other people thought it was funny, and other people thought, oh, this is just PETA, whatever. But, someone posted an iReport about it. This is not a story that we were necessarily talking about. So, as a news producer, we were, like, what are the needs of the news room? I think we try to be, our team, we try to lking that whale thing was really great. We came and said, oh hey, have you guys heard about this? We got an iReporter
Appendix B (Continued) 118 talking about it. And they were, like, oh, okay. You know, alternate programming. INVESTIGATOR: Where did the story get featured? RESPONDENT C: I think it got featured on the home page, on CNN.com. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. RESPONDENT C: Yeah, and we just posted that video right up there. It was from an iReporter, and we had talked to her, and we knew but we do sometimes. And, CNN.com is gonna have, gonna be looking for ways to include more of our readers in the process. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air RESPONDENT C: Well, the process is, anybody at CNN, anybody that works front line or working for CNN International or what have you, if you see something on iReport.com that you think is good, that you think could be part of your rundown, part of the story you wanna tell, then that could be the threshold right there. for anybody who wants it here at CNN so they can get been vetted, the majority of stuff comes t hrough our small a producer to tell us, for instance, that this awesome video of t producers. We have an e mail daily that anyone that works at CNN can sign up for, and we put out a note twice a day
Appendix B (Continued) 119 producer and you come to us and say, I want do a story tart getting what you need out of this thing. INVESTIGATOR: S o, are there any conversations with the producers about RESPONDENT C: Yeah, t thing, working with TV producers, working with the producers from London and Hong Kong who want to use iReport as a vehicle to do something. And, I spend a lot of time trying to as one where we try to walk people, coac h people, through how you can use user generated content, you know. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. RESPONDENT C: is not an iReport thing. You co uld use something else. You someone send you an e mail. The other day we had, we had a producer on the show on Dot.com Live, and they wanted to do a really, kind of a fun thing, not really news, but t hey wanted their audience to send them recipes, and they wanted to cook those recipes and talk about them, I mean, little bit. INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ).
Appendix B (Continued) 120 RESPONDENT C: Whatever. INVESTIGATOR: Is there a process for monitor ing content on iReport? RESPONDENT C: INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT C: CNN has hired a third party moderation team, and they monitor the site 24 hours a day. And, we pay people INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT C: news gathering though, which is why the third level is the community. You know, the community can flag content. They can comment on content. They can, um, they can help, sort of, elevate something that maybe would have slipped t hrough the filter, you know. We get a lot of submissions a day, so second or third look. INVESTIGATOR: Out of all those submissions, how many would you say make it to the big stage, like CNN.com or get featured on air? RESPONDENT C: most recent, but they used to be, like, nine or ten percent of r even gonna be on a CNN.com article. It means that content has been vetted and that ten percent will get used in some capacity. I mean, w e
Appendix B (Continued) 121 CNN.com article. It can be directly linked from inside a show, you know, p art of a segment on CNN.com Live, Headline News, CNNi. I mean, iReports get used across all platforms, and we actually have a hard time keeping track of it. Would you think that the numbers have increased over the years? RESPONDENT C: Yea used, and there are definitely more being submitted, so I stuff. We really t important to us that we reach out right away and, sort of, the reason that people come to iRe port.com, because they want to, like, they want to share their news with CNN, so we want to take that seriously. INVESTIGATOR: And, a follow up, can you describe the process to make sure the iReport content that is vetted is accurate, that it meets news s tandards? RESPONDENT C: Well, we apply the same standards to iReports as we do to high standards. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT C: And, you know, the important thing that we want to establi sh is that its content is real, obviously, and that the content is, person who submitted it. In other words, that person took important thing as part of the vetting process is making that,
Appendix B (Continued) 122 know? The kind of context that might help us use this know? You submit a photo of a wildfire and you say, I took this photo today. Thank you. We call you back and we say, who are you and how long have you lived in LA and where did you take this photo and what kind of camera did you use, ant to share this with us? And, is your home in danger? Are your neighbors okay? impor important, we wanna news gather. We wanna get information. This is a valuable resource. This is somebody who is reaching out to us, and we owe it to them to get all the information we can, so when we in turn, take this content and share it with CNN producers, we can say something interesting. Oh, this person gave me a really interesting human being who is being affected by this story, and her ( inaudible the way, when I was talking to this person, I thought, this some information. So we offer that up too, that maybe you should do a beeper with this person. So, in a way, we play a bookings, guest bookings. I mean, iReporters often are and end up being people in the line an iReport, and literally, within 10 minutes or less, you could be on the air talking to Wolf Blitzer about something that just INVESTIGATOR: Yeah. There are books on developing re lationships, and I think we may have covered this, but, with iReport community members who submit content regularly, why is that important to build relationships with? RESPONDENT C: t is that, for some people, not everyone, but for some people, they really wanna tell good
Appendix B (Continued) 123 people, they wanna become better journalists. So, having that kind of relationship, we can offer up our own profe laughter ). You know, much more advice. But, so me people are seeking a little bit of feedback, and some people are seeking a lot of feedback. important just from a, from a report er standpoint, because, us iReports. So, that sort of connection, the thi ng they are craving is, like, that connection between the CNN process have that rapport with people to not only give them be in a bett er position to help showcase their content, you know, as best we can, you know, as their advocates. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Is there a down side to allowing the public to share their media with CNN? RESPONDENT C: INVESTIGATOR: Is there a down side to allowing the public to share their media with CNN, or their content? Any down side? RESPONDENT C: Uh, well, I mean, besides, like, you know, sort of the obvious examples where people have, like, posted erroneous content or, you know interested in, like, spamming, you know, those kind of things. I think generally, like, community type issues are really sort a lot better with. But, you know, I think, um, again, I would use the word challenge, forum and to allow just about everything to come in, because s not necessarily really opening that up, as a result, you do have people that
Appendix B (Continued) 124 try to game the system. You do have people that try to, um, hink to, like, open the flood gates like that, you know, I think we had to expect that as a real challenge. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Wha t factors prevent iReport submissions from being used by CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT C: stamp on something unless we can actually use it. Now, in that. I mean, there have been examples like that, where, I think, the flooding, actually, last year in the Midwest, we got so many that possibly showcase another one. So, you know, a lot of the same things that would prevent a story from being covered in general do apply also to user generat inaudible nt to use INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Two more questions. Does the public have a role in deciding what iReports make air? RESPONDENT C: have generated by the community. Like, what are the stories you hard news example, but the iReport photo club, we have a roundtable every week, and we were discussing what we wanna do, and there were some passionate photographers, and they were, like, we wanna do a photo club and we
Appendix B (Continued) 125 wanna do a theme every week, and that idea actually turned into real c ontent, and now we do a whole photo gallery every where the community actually ended up, sort of, dictating the the decisions are sti ll being made by producers, which ones are being used. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT C: idea that, um, um, this idea th more iReporters involved in that process, you know? Maybe giving iReporters community tools that will allow them to decide, you know, what stories should be part of something. In my mind, that would be really cool, you know? I NVESTIGATOR: Okay. RESPONDENT C: that direction. INVESTIGATOR: Does iReport represent a change in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT C: to think that iReports after Virginia Tech or before Virginia Tech were doing it, like, two weeks after, because it was, like, oh shit, and transparent, and I thin k we use it more than some. I think CNN has been pretty successful in, like, building that hopefully, when people, if they witness news or they wanna ay, you
Appendix B (Continued) 126 important for us. So, but yeah, I think you see examples of it everywhere now, where, at least using user generated content, incorporating your audience into your INVESTIGATOR: Uh hu ( laughter )? RESPONDENT C: ( Laughter ). ( Inaudible ). ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT C: ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 127 Respondent D 9 2 09 ( Muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ) 20 questions. RESPONDENT D: Okay. INVESTIGATOR: as k you. So, this is respondent D ( laughter identifying the participants. So, how long have you worked in news and what is your experience? RESPONDENT D: college, so only about a year. Before that, I had internships in news at NPR, but not any real, professional experience. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what would be your definition of news? RESPONDENT D: I think, I mean at its most basic level, news is something that happens to someone, s omewhere, and I think, you know, it newsworthy to, like, tell on CNN or something, I think that know, happening to one person and not really gonna affect anybody else. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. Who determines what is new sworthy? RESPONDENT D: as Amani C hannel: Respondent: D D
Appendix B (Continued) 128 bring to our attention that they think is really important that thought about it in a um, at least for us at CNN, like, our goal is to have anybody be able to determine what is newsworthy. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What role would you say you play in the decision making process of content in your current position? And, if you could explain what your position is, that would be great. RESPONDENT D: Uh, like content that makes it on CNN? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, the content that comes through iReport or the content RESPONDENT D: Yeah. of us are. So, um, but I feel that we have a lot of freedom, because at iReport, I guess, you know, our whole idea is to be more collaborat ive and more open, and so we have that on our team too, not just for iReport contributors. So, um, if want to do a story on, as long as I can justify it, then I can do that and get it on CNN. So, I feel like we have a lot of freedom to, kind of, think of stuff and work with our suggest stories and stuff, like, um, what was the big one? Oh yeah, at the inauguration in January, the s tory about generated, like...iReporters broke that story. Like, the iReporters were sending us these pictures, and we were, like, oh my God, like, nobody knows about this. So, we got to, um, we got to write a story for CNN.com, it got all over TV. And, that was something that, like, we totally controlled, know about this. Um, so I feel that we have a pretty big role in determining what content g oes out. Um, not for, like, the more obvious, like, breaking news stories, but, like, for the smaller stories that can, kind of, fill out the bigger stories, I feel like we really, kind of, tend to take the lead on that. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, based the business about a year, but, could you explain the traditional news selection process or if you have any
Appendix B (Continued) 129 experience with it? What happens in a traditional news room? RESPONDENT D: know, in the morning, you go to your budget meeting, and everybody talks about, oh, you know, this was on AP, I heard this, bla, bla, bla. And, you, kind of, have, you know, the editors or the senior producers, or whoever it is, ki nd of, important stories and how important they are and, kind of, down, kin d of, system. And, at iReport, we try to be more from the ground up. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How has the Internet changed the news gathering practices? RESPONDENT D: so much, so much better for us, because if you wanna find someone who has thoughts on a particular issue or street and you go out and talk to people and find them. And, you can still do that, I mean, a lot of people sti ll do that, but, you can, you know, with iReport and with Facebook and stuff like that, you can easily find people from all over the world, um, and it gives you so many different options to have different perspectives on different stories. So, I think it really helped us out, because it can make the stories much more full, much more well rounded, because it allows you to get in touch with people that have so many more, kind of, different for us, on the Internet, um, as opposed to, like, meeting them in is, or if they are who they say they are. So, I think you have to be a lot m ore careful with your vetting, with your sources, INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What is the most common way news is gathered full time CNN staff, but from iReporters? RESPONDEN T D: From iReporters?
Appendix B (Continued) 130 INVESTIGATOR: Yeah. RESPONDENT D: Um, the most common way they got their news? INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT D: Oh, okay. Um, well, I mean ( laughter ), they see stuff going on and send scan the site and see what they sent in. Um, we do submitters, so we have really close relationships. So, those people, they tend to have ou like, call us and be, like, hey, I just saw this and I uploaded it mail us and be, like, hey, I just sent you this photo, or whatever. Um, but, we do s our main, kind of, goal for the photos and videos, generally, that they submit. Um, and yeah, we tend to just look through t he site for it and then we contact them, except in those cases where they know us personally. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. So, what are the benefits of this process? Are there any challenges or drawbacks? RESPONDENT D: thing is that it allows anybody to tell CNN, like, hey, this is happening and you should take a look at it. Because, I think, you know, before iReport, before Facebook, that kind of thing, it was totally, like, dependent on us knowing, like, what was happ ening in the world, just based on this small group of people in this news room. But now, with iReport and with other, you know, going on, and then we can look at it and say, like, wow, this is reall y important, or, like, oh, this is not so important. I think that, just the fact that anybody can tell us what they think is news is really, really important for broadening our coverage and for making sure that we touch on issues that are important. Um, but then, like I said, that does come with a challenge, because you have to be really, really careful
Appendix B (Continued) 131 resources that we have here to, kind of, co nsume everything INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. So, explain what iReport is. RESPONDENT D: ( Laughter iReport is a way for people to participate in the news with way to turn the news gathering process into more of a conversation. People can tell us what they going on in their area. People can sound off on a particular issue. They can even send us, you kn ow, random cool pictures, or whatever, and you know, sometimes we like to think iReport is a way to turn what used to be a very one sided process, that is us, like, spitting out news at people, int o a two way conversation where they can participate and definition ( laughter ) of iReport. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT D: The value is, I think, it makes the news more relevant, more well rounded for everybody, I think. You know, for us, it makes it easier to include all different perspectives. It makes it easier f or us to get great footage from breaking news situations. And, I think that only benefits the people who watch CNN or go to CNN.com, um, they know that they can get, you know, a much wider range of perspectives on issues. They know that, you know, with o ur resources with iReport, we can have a lot of photos from breaking news situations. We can have them first, or we can have them faster. So, I think it benefits everybody. INVESTIGATOR: What is the difference between content found on iReport versus tra ditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT D: Well, um, the, you know, the news that you would traditionally find on CNN or CNN.com is gathered by someone who is a professional journalist and has all that training, so they, you know, they know how to, kind of, judge
Appendix B (Continued) 132 what they need to fill in, um, and what kind of sources they need to backup their information. iReport, we do have some freelance journalists and journalism students who pro duce, also people, you know, who just wanna say their thoughts on something, or who will cover an event, but you know, maybe the iRe important to develop these relationships with people and that we carefully got all the stories. We talk to these people on the phone, we talk to them by e mail so that we can use, kind of, our tradi tional journalism training or journalism expertise to help fill out their stories and help make their or interest people if it runs on CNN. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How do you determine that an iRep ort submission has good stuff? RESPONDENT D: affect someone, or hopefully affe ct a large group of people, um, in order to make it on CNN. And, by affect, I mean, you know, it might be a breaking news thing like wildfires, like, it could even be on a smaller level. Like, every week we produce, uh, an offbeat images gallery, and we have an iReport photo club traditio impact on people. They send in a lot of page views on CNN.com, and people really enjoy, kind of, you know, if and look at this other cool stuff. try to think a lot about effect and impact when we try to determine, you know, the hierarchy of newsworthiness on iReport. INVESTIGATOR: Is there a process to monitoring content on iReport? RESPONDENT D: Yeah. Um, we have a post moderation system, which
Appendix B (Continued) 133 site. And, then we have a group of third party moderators posted, all of the posts and all of the comme nts. And, if obscene, or something like that, then they have the right to pull it off the site. But, usually what they do, before they pull something completely down off the site, they contact us, and that we can, kind of, put our editorial input on it. Um, but real we really think is inappropriate, then we do, occasionally, pull stuff down. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT D: Actually, one more t hing on that. Sorry ( laughter ). Um, another thing we try to do, instead of automatically pulling Like, people have, you know, like, they have a profile picture that they might not realiz e is considered obscene or something, or, if they have good content, but, you know, one of their iReports is just not appropriate for the site, we try to contact them and just, kind of, explain it, and be, like, hey, buting to the site, but it. So, I think that reaching out to them is also a really important part of that. INVESTIGATOR: Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air or on CNN.com? RESPONDENT D: different ways that can happen. Um, I think, all and all, it collabo rative team in the spirit of our collaborations with iReporters. So, I think all of us tend to have equal input. You know, all of us have the right to approve iReports to run as a group and with the producers in the different sections at CNN.com, with the producers of the different shows on CNN.
Appendix B (Continued) 134 come to us and say, we saw this iReport that we wanna use. having, so I think, you know, everybody gets a little bit of good, you know, way to do it, because, you know, two heads are better than one, I guess, and it kind o f makes it a little bit of a checks and balances there. So, it works out really well. INVESTIGATOR: So, describe the process used to ensure that iReport content that is used on CNN or CNN.com is accurate. RESPONDENT D: Yeah, um, we have a really, um, we have a really thorough vetting process that we use, and I know that when I first e we do things so thoroughly. So, before we would ever consider using an iReport on air or on CNN.com, we call that person and have a conversation with them, and we ask them, you the truth and t problem with someone, like, legitimately, like, lying to us. But usually, people are really forthcoming. Like, if I call ask, you know, did you take the picture? Did you take the video? Did you get permission fr om the people who were in it? You know, make sure they were in whatever situation it somewhere. Um, you know, when and where it was taken. kind of camera they used and that sort of thing, and you can really easily verify that by opening the picture in PhotoShop. take the picture or video. And then, beyond that, we make use of the really amazing resources that we have here at CNN to verify the situation, and that what the person is saying about whatever they submitted is true. Um, so a good example is, um, with the Iran elections and protests that we had over the summer, um, we have, you know, we have our whole international news room, we have a whole
Appendix B (Continued) 135 team of people, you know, geared toward the Middle East, geared toward Iran. So, like, if I was approving an iReport from Iran, I would ask the person all of my vetting questio ns. I would talk to them until I felt they were legit, and then, I would either have them talk to someone from the Middle East desk or, you know, e mail all of my notes to the person from the Middle East desk, and like, hey, does this sound legit to you? You know, we have all these experts here, and know, we start off the process by just making sure g is submitted and that e never had a problem with approving anything that was inaccurate INVESTIGATOR: Thank you. Is there a focus on developing relationships with your iReport community members who submit content regularly and why? RESPONDENT D: community manager. We have another producer now who is actually gonna be doing some more community build relationships with these people, because we feel like make sure that they feel valued in return. So, we know friends with them. We, like, follow them on Twitter, and th ey follow us, and like I said, they have our phone numbers and our e just, like, feel comfortable e mailing us and being like, hey, like, I sent in this new thing, or, like, hey, I saw my video, or wh atever, on CNN. Thanks so much for using it, like, bla, bla, bla. So, um, yeah, we do have close, close been really, really fun. We had our most recent iReporter, like, she came in to, kind of hang out with us, and ended up doing a live interview on the air. Um, so, people get really excited, not just our team, but people all across the network get all excited when iReporters come to visit, because, like,
Appendix B (Continued) 136 these people are really, you know, he lping us out a lot, and people what you think is important. So, yeah, we do have eally fun, and, I INVESTIGATOR: Is there a down side to allowing the public to share news with CNN? RESPONDENT D: that are more traditional in thei r approach to news gathering, might say, yeah, but, like, you have to wade through all this But, I think, you know, we have iReport, an percentage of the stuff that comes in on iReport. So, it can really only benefit us and really only benefit our viewers and RESPONDENT D: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT D: ( Inaudible ). ( Laughter ). ( Muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: So, the question was, is there a down side to allowing the RESPONDENT D: INVESTIGATOR: ( laug hter ). RESPONDENT D: Yeah, I think, um, I think I was saying iReport can only help know, find stories that we might not have otherwise known
Appendix B (Continued) 137 abou t, like I was saying about the inauguration with the news outlet knew about that because they were all too busy covering the inauguration, us included. So, when the people started sending iReport s, we were like, oh my God, like, this is a huge story. So, that was amazing. They can actually, you know, break news on iReport. And, I think, you know, not gonna use Bye. I have to go somewhere else ( loud mov ement in room ) ( inaudible ( Muffled noise ). INVESTIGATOR: thoughts about the challenges or down side of allowing the public share their content? RESPONDENT D: Oh, yeah. Okay, so I was saying, l everything, but for CNN viewers, I think it can only benefit our iReporters, I think it can only benefit them too, because, ot really, awesome for them, because they love to be on CNN ( inaudible really involved in the community, and we are always giving people tips on how to improve their iReporting, you know, improve their picture taking or their video editing or their interviewing skills, or whatever it is, and they really, really appreciate that. They actual ly, they come back to use and are asking for more feedback, how can we do better? So, I on CNN, they still get a lot out of being in our community.
Appendix B (Continued) 138 INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What factors prevent iRepo rt submissions from being used by CNN? RESPONDENT D: not gonna use it. Um, we always have to verify iReporting. Um, and, what else prevents them from being used? quality that they have to be in order to, like, be termed useful ( Loud movement in room ). Um, like, for example, if we get a video of, like, um, a video from the California wildfires, and news situation, it might otherwise be really val uable, but if it mean, really, we try not to have, like, super high, like, you s omething that we can usually clean up, but if something is gonna probably use that. INVESTIGATOR: Does the public have a role in deciding what iReports make it? RESPONDENT D: What iReports? INVESTIGATOR: What iReports are used on CNN.com or CNN? RESPONDENT D: final decision, obviously, but they play a huge factor, because, you know, on iReport.com, um, you know, you can comment on stories, you can share stories, and we see all probably gonna put it on the air. So, you know, it sparks a really good discussion. But, they definitely have a role, and
Appendix B (Continued) 139 for them to communicate with us. We have roundtables on our blog every week, which is like a discussion and comments for our reports, and people always tell us, like, hey, this is something that you should make an assignment for, or, this is something that I wish you guys would cove r, down all that content that we get and really telling us what they thin k is important. INVESTIGATOR: Does iReport represent a significant change in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT D: Yeah, I would say so. You know, not just iReport, but citizen journalism, in general. You know, using Twitter and Facebook and that sor obviously, in breaking news situations, we can get eyewitnesses, we can get people who were there through our camera crews or our reporters. Um, and it also, it also um, like I said before, it really gives us a chance to get more diverse stories and more diverse perspectives on the stories come to us. So, obviously, we still have to vet them and directly communicate with CNN, because if someone goes to iReport, like, they know that people from CNN are gonna be looking at this. So, it really lets them almost, kind of, pitch stories to us, if they want to. It lets them tell us, you guys did job on this story, or you should be covering this, or this is what I think about this. Um, so, it really, it really has much more well rounded, and it also makes it a lot more personal, I think, because we find, a lot of times, that the most valuable stuff we get on iReport is, like, perso nal stories that could really, really have an impact on us and really have an impact on our viewers. Um, for example, we were doing a story for the anniversary of Apollo 11, which who just like, oh, I was watching this on TV, this is cool. But,
Appendix B (Continued) 140 tracking station when Apollo 11 was coming back to Earth, and, like, he did this thi ng, like, he had to, like, repair this antenna that was, like, crucial for their communications with NASA, I mean, he was the only one who could do it. And, he was, like, 12 years old, and it was this amazing story that he sent into iReport. And, at firs t, I was like, skeptical. I was, like, okay, I called him, and like, verified everything with NASA, and it ended up being a lead story on CNN.com for iReport, there was, like, no way that w e would have gotten that personal story, that really interesting story on Apollo 11 that nobody would have thought to tell. So, I think it really helps us get more personal stories that our readers tend to really connect with. INVESTIGATOR: Anything else questions ( laughter ). RESPONDENT D: Sorry ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter RESPONDENT D: ( Laughter ). ( Inaudible have, like ( inaudible ) ( laughter ). RESPONDENT D: ( inaudible ) ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, good time. We can wrap up? RESPONDENT D: uch all I thought of to tell you. INVESTIGATOR: Okay, cool. Thank you so much. RESPONDENT D: Thank you. INVESTIGATOR: I appreciate your time. (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.)
Appendix B (Continued) 141 ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interfe rence.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 142 Respondent E 9 2 09 ( Muffled noise ). ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: your responsibilities are and your job title and that sort of going to really try to prompt you at all, I just want your thoughts RESPONDENT E: Okay. INVESTIGATOR: you r experience? RESPONDENT E: inaudible ) my professional journalism career, so I came right out of college and had a job after that. I had a couple jobs doing odd things, but, you know, three years. INVESTIG ATOR: Three years. Where did you start? Have you been working at CNN.com the whole time? RESPONDENT E: Yes, I started out at CNN.com as an associate producer and INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT E: Um, news is a low important to people, you know, news is just something you inaudible ). th me right now. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, who determines what is newsworthy? Amani Channel: Respondent: E E
Appendix B (Continued) 143 RESPONDENT E: Um ( laughter to get anybody to agree on that. So, the loudest voice wins on some occasions, or, you know, con sensus, determining what makes news ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: What role would you say you play in the decision making process of content in your current position? RESPONDENT E: is that we all, you know, pitch in and help with the decision er my because I also want to ( laughter ), you know, produce some INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT E: ciate producer. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Based on your experience or past experience, could you explain the traditional news selection in a typical broadcast operation? RESPONDENT E: broadcast, I sta my way through broadcast, um, but I think, you know, the but, you know, we gonna get people engaged? What is gonna make one talk? know, thinking what really matters to people. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How did the Internet change news gathering practices? RESPONDENT E:
Appendix B (Continued) 144 everybody has a bigg er stake in everything. People are like, Walter Cronkite speaking to you on TV at night, you INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What are the most common ways news is gat hering from non full time CNN staff here at the network, in that this pertains more to the iReporters. RESPONDENT E: checking, and we do t you know ( laughter t. And, I mean, of that too. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. How is it gather gathering that content? RESPONDENT E: Um, as far as user content? INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT E: get it to where people actually see it. So, CNN obviously is out there a INVESTIGATOR: Gotcha. So, what are the benefits or drawbacks of the process? RESPONDENT E: le to, kind of, gather information and allow a community to paint the picture together and tell the story together. Um, I guess the drawback, or maybe the
Appendix B (Continued) 145 caveat, is that we need to, um, people have to send it to us. whenever you put an assignment out there, but you know what people are gonna do, and we have a general idea of behavior and so, you know, we do our best to postulate INVESTIGATOR: How do they send in their reports, generally? RESPONDENT E: upload it there, a video or photo, they can e mail it from their cell phones, as well, INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, okay. So, explain what iReport is. RESPONDENT E: iReport or iReport.com? INVESTIGATOR: Well, iReport being the initiative, and iReport.com be ing the INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh, yeah. ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT E: Uh huh. Yeah, so, iReport is a medium by which we get initiatives to get c itizens to share their stories, um, for CNN and, uh, citizens to tell stories together, you know, sort of INVESTIGATOR: iReport, as opposed to traditionally gathered n ews on CNN or CNN.com? The content that you see on iReport, at least initially, is CNN stamp or gets approved for use, b ut whatever you see there, is something that somebody sent us.
Appendix B (Continued) 146 RESPONDENT E: Right, right. RESPONDENT E: Uh huh. INVESTIGATOR: In terms of the production process, would there be any differ ences that you would know? RESPONDENT E: of reminded my of, you know, using a site like Flicker, and also using those sites where you download images, like, ( inaudible use it. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How do you determine an iReport submission has news value? RESPONDENT E: kinda looking for ideas about what we like would and what on there, and whatever proje look for content that appeals to them or that they need. Um, ing that, you really neat. It has great production value. It tells a story. It tells a human story. I think what really the whole thing that, sort of, draws me into a particular story is that it the story here? What are we trying to tell? Right? And, something that spea us something cool. INVESTIGATOR: Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air or on CNN.com?
Appendix B (Continued) 147 RESPONDENT E: ke it that as much as possible. Um, I mean, personally for use, for example, and then shop it around and whether other people around the networks see it. I encourage them to look at it. We all have them, and they can decide whether they wanna use it or not. And, know, my sphere of influences that I control. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT E: INVESTIGATOR: Is there a process for monitoring the content in iReport.com? And, what is the process? RESPONDENT E: monitored system, so content is, um, moderated on a minimalist level to make sure removed. But, I mean, for the there, you know? We just wanna keep a vibrant conversation going on the site. INVESTIGATOR: s you use to assure that is accurate? RESPONDENT E: get a lot, be it a feed or whatever, or if we get a wire from onna need to verify it. Any source that we talk to, we have to verify. So, we treat this like we would any it. We need to verify it. We need to use it, and we need to triangulate it with th ings other people are saying. So, if an eyewitness account. We would treat that just like I had talked to an eyewitness. You know, we treat that as exactly
Appendix B (Continued) 148 o had a story. So, we check to see that their story matches what other reports are saying or what other people are saying, and what way of talking to people. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Is there a focu s on developing relationships with your community members of regular content contributors, and if so, why is that so important? RESPONDENT E: lot of what keeps people contributing is because we h ave a a look at it and give them feedback or pass it onto somebody communicating with of having their content seen, so they communicate with me. But, we do have David out there doing full time community management, and he deals with some of the larger issues that the community is facing and that they are able to use another conduit to talk about the issues that they have that are going on. We try to do what we can to address them. A nd, we have a roundtable each week where they can talk to us, and we try to take action. We make a conscious effort to listen to what they say and implement their ideas. Um, the iReport photo club was an idea they suggested. ( Inaudible ) suggested it, so we started it, you know? They give us an idea, and we try to carry it out as best as we can. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Is there a downside to allowing the public to share media with CNN? RESPONDENT E: Is there a downside to what? INVESTIGATOR: Is there a d ownside to allowing the public to share content or media with CNN? RESPONDENT E: y would we want to close ourselves off from more information?
Appendix B (Continued) 149 It seems counterintuitive to a news organization wanting to do that. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What factors prevent iReport submissions from being used by CNN? RESPONDENT E: gonna look at a content piece and go, is the production value okay for us to use? Is it accurate? Does it match, you know, kinda a back and forth, um, relationship that we have with the community. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Does the public have any role in deciding what iReports are or (cell phone interference) will be used by CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT E: Does the iReport community? INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT E: The public? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, does the pu could be the iReport community, but what role do non CNN employees have in, you know, getting content on the broadcast network or on the Internet? RESPONDENT E: lf, we have different ways to surface content. We have, you know, a filter for on CNN, but we also have a most viewed, most stuff that gets and the amount of conversation is, a lot of times, the ma in, or one of the main factors we use in determining, um, whether something is used. I mean, for me, seeing the number of views, seeing the amount of community engagement is essential in choosing what we use and what we decide to promote. If something is not getting a lot of clicks and not getting a lot of comments, or about something. So, I think, you know, community
Appendix B (Continued) 150 because the commu necessarily see the audience and the community as being something that separate. I mean, they are a little separate, but, you know, people are people. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. Does iReport present a significant change i n the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT E: ( Heavy sigh a revolutionary idea for a news organization to open up a Web site and ask people to share cont other news network doing that, and certainly none of them um, I (cell phone interference). another way to get, um, viewpoints and ideas you know? I conversation in community. You know, like how a paper, you know, you try to be the reporters to the editor, you know. INVESTI GATOR: RESPONDENT E: I think that was pretty thorough analysis. Is there anything else? What I would like you to talk about or like her to talk to you about is her experience in talking about the Iran desk, because, Nicole actually sat on the Iran desk during the breaking news, and just talked to iReporters from there. RESPONDENT E: Um, my dad is, from ( inaudible was an inaudible ), you know about the Iran desk, They a ctually had a separate desk set up in the news room. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. So, during the shows on daytime, they would have people
Appendix B (Continued) 151 RESPONDENT E: a little background, so and put them in this one area together so they can all communicate. So, they had people from international, s ome people from all over different places, people that spoke Farsi, um, I was surprised with how many people there had some people who were sca nning YouTube, some people who were scanning, you know, whatever. So, I was the iReport person, and it was my job to monitor the iReports that were coming in. So, I sat up there. I had a desk and king through them, and I was following up on everything that looked good to me, and you know, I was making a lot of phone calls. And, as you know, it was very difficult to get information out. There were no media really in there, and nothing coming out. Communication was being hampered and limited, so it was very challenging. I would send e mails to people, that were a bit at risk sometimes, to share this information, um, and try to call them on the phone and e mail, and sometimes it was hard to get in touch with them. And, you know, it was hard to verify things, what they send, information, so a triangulation came into play. That was, again, using what we know, using what other people are saying, wh at our experts know, people that are there, people who have been there, um, just using a variety of information, and using that gut instinct, that sort of journalistic sense, like, INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. In that situation, did the procedures for vetting content change at all, being that is was hard to confirm certain things? RESPONDENT E: I think I was definitely putting out some extra caution flags for certain things. You know, the same process, but just takin g a little extra time to run this by various people who have experience with that. And, being very careful about names. I mean, even if the iReporter wanted their name
Appendix B (Continued) 152 people at risk, and advi sing people of the risks they were undertaking. was used on television, if it was ( inaudible ) ( loud movement in room RESPONDENT E: portant, actually with the YouTube stuff, they were saying it was unverified, but with the CNN was unique about it. You know, this was an opportunity to actually verify content that we had, and that was unique. INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT E: But, with a lot of the YouTube stuff, it was, um, unverified. But, they did ( inaudible come in here having done it, they will say, then that came from YouTube, or this is unverified. Or ( laughter ( Laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: It ( inaudible have went through the vetting process, the CNN standard of vetting. RESPONDENT E: Yeah, I mean, they were trying to make transparent, like the, the best of our ability. INVESTIGATOR: Very good. Thank you so much. RESPONDENT E: Thank you. ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due t o intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 153 Respondent F 9 2 09 ( Muffled noise ). ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: experience? RESPONDENT F: respondent number or whatever. INVESTIGATOR: This is F. Okay. Respondent F. RESPONDENT F: Okay. So, um, CNN was actually my first job after college. I had an internship here, but I worked on newspapers all thro years. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT F: My definition of news? Um, whatever is happening in the happen people might be interested in. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Who determines what is newsworthy? RESPONDENT F: realizing that more and more working here, um, on the iReport team. I mean, obviously, like, people who work in the news, um, you know, say this is news or whatever, but, affects them. That determines what news is. INVESTIGATOR: Who determines what What role would you say you play in the decision making in your current position? Amani Channel: Respondent: F F
Appendix B (Continued) 154 RESPONDENT F: The decision making of what? INVESTIGATOR: Of content. What role would you say you play in the decision making process o f the content? What happens to content in your current position? RESPONDENT F: So, um, so you mean, like, what role do I play in the iReport content making that comes to air and stuff like that? INVESTIGATOR: RES PONDENT F: I play a pretty big role, in terms of the question, what is news? Basically, I come in every morning and look through the iReports we receive, and then I go to an editorial meeting news a what people are experiencing and sending pictures of. Um, and then, of course, based on that, and based on what CNN is interested in, I help get th ings to air on CNN or CNN.com. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT F: Uh, associate producer. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what are your daily functions, aside from the morning meeting? RESPONDENT F: Um, one thing I do is, uh, every morning I come in, I decide what is our T the right hand side. That pretty much generates a lot of our other team members. I tend to work on longer term projects and also, kind of, help guide the team on what everyone else is working on. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Based on your past experience, could you explain the traditional news selection process? The que stion is in a typical broadcast room, but just based on your experience, what would that be? RESPONDENT F: Can you repeat that again?
Appendix B (Continued) 155 INVESTIGATOR: Based on your past experience, can you explain the traditional news selection process or how news is selec ted in RESPONDENT F: outside of iReport, but in working at a school newspaper and then also when I interned here, I worked in the sidetrack department, and it seemed I would begin m y day looking at what other news outlets were reporting on, and seeing, like, what around the world what was newsworthy, and then, our people are talking about, what people are seeing, is what determi nes how our day is gonna go, in terms of news coverage. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How has the Internet changed news gathering? RESPONDENT F: ver sleep. You have to have around the clock coverage. People expect it to be up to the minute with news stories. And then, in terms of citizen journalism, it enables people to report on news so much quicker, like immediately after it happens to them. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What are the most common ways news is gathered from non full time CNN staff? RESPONDENT F: So, from iReporters? Okay. The most common way? Well, obviously when people see news, they either take a photo or video of what they see and then they send it to iReport.com, and usually, with, kind of, a text blurb explaining what on the site. And, if we see some breaking news or breaking news, it could be a flood piece, or like a human interest go through a vetting process where we ask them all sorts of details and, basically, interview them like you would interview anyon e else in the news, any other expert, um, and can put their photos or videos on CNN.com or on CNN TV
Appendix B (Continued) 156 news. INVESTIGATOR: What are the be nefits or drawbacks to that process? RESPONDENT F: It can be a little time consuming from the moment of when the person experiences the news until when we contact news, depending on what time of day it is. Our team is not staffed around the clock, which is why we try so hard to get CNN as a whole really interested in iReports, and we train all the time to reach out, because obviously, just the eight of us t, we got thousands everyone. So, um, some of that stuff came in, like, got great stuff is, because people are sending in so much. INVESTIGATOR: Do you have any specific examples? RESPONDENT F: Um, the inauguration ( laughter ) is a big one. Like, um, basically, with the inauguration, you know, there are millions of people that a photos that were kind of blurry of the crowd. And then, people will spend a really long time and put together a brilliant piece of all this video footage and they would get it to us a day later, and so, the cell phone piece made it on air, Maybe, um, with the death of Michael Jackson? RESPONDENT F: have met them and whatever, and we get some ama zing stories, and some of the stories when people die, including Michael Jackson, come a little later You get the immediate stories about this girl who rode next to him on the Jumbo ride at Disney World, and she sent a photo of that. So, fortunately, that story went on for such a long time, that we were able to get those stories in the news, as well. INVESTIGATOR: Okay, cool. Explain what iReport is.
Appendix B (Continued) 157 RESPONDENT F: iReport is a news gathering site that enables CNN to reach everyday people for everyday people to have a voice through CNN. INVESTIGATOR: What is the difference between content found on iReport compared to traditionally gathere CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT F: Um, basically, content on iReport is sent to us by people, content, their own original stories. The difference between that and, like, finding a source for a story and interviewing sending their stories to us, and telling versus us searching for a story we think is newsworthy. INVESTIGATOR: How do you determine if a submission has value? RESPONDENT F: some big event that we know is going on I the news room, looking for iReports. But then, the sides of life stories are a Really, we look for really solid content, like, stories that are really well edited and told, and just interesting in general and een INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air or on CNN.com? RESPONDENT F: Um, we do as a team. Um, basically, wh en we go out and any show, and individual show producers look at that totally welcome to. Um, also we, on the iReport team, get to
Appendix B (Continued) 158 determine what goes on CNN.com because we can put those links up on the page and put in the stories. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what is the process of pitching a story to a producer? Is it a challenge? RESPONDENT F: Um, not really. We on the iReport team have the benefit of being really creative, and a lot of times, stories start with an their stories about a certain topic, and those topics usually turn into, um, stories that we write for CNN.com. Basically, when we have an idea for that, it usually winds up being discussed during a brainstorming session with the iReport produces the video piece or whatever, and then, just like any other story, it would be pitched to the section producers to whatever, and it makes it to the site. INVESTIGATOR: What about broadcast? RESPONDENT F: approved an iReport for TV, um, we send it out through this mailing list and say, you can use this, and generally from there, the TV producers may turn it into a package or know all of the details. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. O kay. Is there a process to monitoring content on iReport? RESPONDENT F: INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT F: INVESTIGATOR: I mean ( inaudible RESPONDENT F: Uh huh. INVESTIGATOR:
Appendix B (Continued) 159 RESPONDENT F: goes straight onto the site. We do have tools for the community to be able t profane or whatever. And, uh, you know, we keep a close really well having the community being in charge of letting us I NVESTIGATOR: iReport submissions, used for either broadcast or on the Web site, CNN.com, that the content is accurate. RESPONDENT F: Um, so to ensure the content is accurate, once we see an iReport th we call the submitter, and when we call them, we go through a certain number of questions where we ask them their name, and just basic details, when it was taken, what it was like. Um, the number one th ing we want to ensure is that the content belongs to them, and usually, just by talking to them and getting the details and their descriptions of what the some other tools where we can bring a photo into PhotoShop and see when a photo got taken or what kind of camera it was taken with, so we can add those extra details. that we international team and the weather team for their expertise, people say they see a tornado or whatever, the weather team will say, this i INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Is there a focus on developing relationships with the iReport community, those who submit content regularly, why is that important, and is that the case? RESPONDENT F: community manager, a member on our team, who is really focused on the community and resolving any conflicts in the of the community and encourag ing people to submit iReports
Appendix B (Continued) 160 again. Um, something that we do on a regular basis is that we have assignments that are lighthearted and fun for the experiencing breaking news, so the way to keep people active on the site is by having these fun assignments they can participate in and share their stories in or whatever. right in as a part of the community and very familiar with the process. INVESTIGAT OR: RESPONDENT F: up with a new topic every week. Um, last week was horizons, and we did before and after shots, and those always turn into a fun, interactive of all these great photos assignments have been some of our most succe ssful. We had a creative cubicles assignment, and I think that was our biggest traffic day. People loved that. INVESTIGATOR: Hmm. Okay. Are there downsides to allowing the public to share their media? Is there a downside? RESPONDENT F: Um, I guess i been really lucky for the most part, and I think the few downsides that there are really benefits, outweighs, you for being able INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What factors prevent an iReport submission from being used by CNN.com or on air? RESPONDENT F: What prevents it? INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT F: for use? INVESTIGATOR: laughter ).
Appendix B (Continued) 161 RESPONDENT F: ( Laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT F: Well, obviously, some things just might not be newsworthy, and are put in, like um if the content is not original, it will never make it onto hing that is approved for CNN makes it onto CNN.com or CNN TV in some way. Um, INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Does the public have a role in deciding what iReports make air? RESPONDENT F: Um, to an extent. We def popular on the site, it definitely gets out attention, so it has a much greater chance being vetted and being approved for CNN. Um, people also have done some really creative gnments assignments. Um, there was one, um, our promotions team used to hand out iReport for CNN shirts, and so, one of our iReporters said, anybody who has one of these shirts, I want you to go stand in front of a landmark where you live and then send in your picture. And, he compiled them all out an assignment and produce it into conte nt. So, that typically gets our attention for going that far, so we, probably gonna turn that into a blog post or something fun for CNN. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Does iReport represent a significant chang e in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT F: also getting the attention of people, um, in other news outlets, and just teaching them that, um, regular people do have very interesting stories and can be journalists on their own. Just because they may not be a professional journalist
Appendix B (Continued) 162 citizen journalism, when it first started, was just focused on breaking news, and by us, like, having different kind of assignments out there that are more creative, it kind of proves that everyday people in just their regular lives can be interesting too. INVESTIGATOR: you? RESPONDENT F: laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: All right. RESPONDENT F: Thank you for taking the time. ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 163 Respondent G 9 18 09 (AUDIO STARTS ABRUPTLY.) ( Muffled noise ). ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: you o pen any questions so you can just elaborate or expound or share your thoughts, just whatever you think. So, to start off with, how long have you worked in news and RESPONDENT G: off as the ( inaudible ), which is like the entry level ( loud movement in room ) ( inaudible ), and ended up on the editorial side, eventually, up in the main news room, TV and then .com Live down here, and then, iReport after that. INVESTIGATOR: So, how long have you been at iReport? RESPONDENT G: Um, iReport, just over a year. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what is your definition of news? RESPONDENT G: it has a big effect on the world, both national and international, you laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). Yeah. So, who determines what is newsworthy? RESPONDENT G: Um, in general or here? INVESTIGATOR: Just, yeah. What are your thoughts on it? Amani Channel: Respondent: G G
Appendix B (Continued) 164 RESPONDENT G: what it is that determines it? INVESTIGATOR: Yes, who determines what is newsworthy? RESPONDENT G: Um, well, in some cases, the viewer will determine it, because, you know, you want to interest them. And, viewers are iReporters too, so it kind of works hand in hand, the fact that iReporters are suggesting what they want to be news, you know, in their iReporters. And, of course, there are lot s of people here at CNN and at other news organizations that, gonna affect people. Of course, they always take that into consideration. INVESTI GATOR: Okay. What role would you say you play in the decision making process of content here in composition? RESPONDENT G: for them to use. And, to the extent we can tell people on CNN.com, um what we would like to see on the site, especially as the ( inaudible ) site. Um, and, so, the other day, I offered it up to people, but they can take it or leave it ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: You RESPONDENT G: back of my head can CNN use this? Can CNN.com use this? You know, does this se em like something, from what stuff on their site or on TV? So (cell phone interference) ( inaudible ), once I approve it, I tell them, you know, the people at TV, the people at CNN.com, around the org you know, you should be using this for your purposes, whatever it is, TV or on the Web. INVESTIGATOR: success rate of actually pitching ? What does it seem like producers or those who have control over CNN.com or CNN
Appendix B (Continued) 165 broadcast are interested in? What kind of content are they looking for? Or, what do they end up accepting from you or RESPONDENT G: Well, um, anything big, you know, any of those st they would probably go for. But then, we are looking for stories that iReporters are giving us that may not be out there, that may not be on the radar of CNN, and h opefully, try to get it on (cell phone interference) I would say when ention CNN.com and CNN TV. If we believe in the story, you know, if we really push for it. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT G: Right, right. INVESTIGATOR: So, based o n your past experience, I guess prior to working in the news department, explain the traditional news process in a traditional broadcast operation or news room. RESPONDENT G: So, explain how traditionally it works? INVESTIGATOR: Uh huh. RESPONDENT G: Ju st, uh, ( inaudible ).com? INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, just based on your experience. Can you explain how, I guess in a traditional broadcast operation or .com, whatever, your experiences, how is the news chosen or selected? RESPONDENT G: Well, a big part of it i s every morning they have meetings, and they have a meeting that is for, uh, just for U.S. TV, and they have one for international TV, and they have one up here for .com, and it goes over, like, towards the day, and
Appendix B (Continued) 166 parts of .com, and are the top stories people are following, you know, within the organization. You can offer it up. And so, at that point, they, 1, you know? And, there but, possible stories that could tell a story on CNN.com, and of like, what the top stories are gonna be (cell phone interference) they p ut them out as the day goes on, they change out what the top story will be quite a bit. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, how has the Internet changed news gathering practices? RESPONDENT G: Um, how h you know, people would send e mails, comments, you know. mail responses to things on the site, like, reactio n articles, and it sort of evolved into iReport, I guess. And, I think at one point they had iReport and e mails side by side, and it was getting more and more to iReport, but there obviously are viewer, um, reader comments. So, before that, um, it was p guess maybe, like, people could call like a call in show, they think of where, um, viewers could respond and give their thoughts on things, and sort of, the viewer response to a sto ry for them to comment on another part of the story. A lot news, people want to give their opinion. That is a new part INVESTIGATOR: What ab out just the technology being able to allow users to share their content? Has ( inaudible ) played a role in that, as well? RESPONDENT G: Oh yeah. Anybody can pickup a camera, um, you know, send some pictures, send some video, and anyone who is in
Appendix B (Continued) 167 there w hen the news is happening can do that. Of course, you probably heard already, one of the best examples, the shooting a couple years ago where, you know, the guy had time, but he heard gunshots, you k now. And so, um, that became a huge part of that story. So, as I say, anybody has the technology to upload a video or upload a picture. Anyone can potentially be making news or reporting the news. INVESTIGATOR: So, what is the most common way news is g athered from non full time CNN staff? RESPONDENT G: INVESTIGATOR: What is the most common way news is gathered from non full time CNN staff? RESPONDENT G: Um, you mean, like, iReports or ( inaudible ) ( laughter ). Okay. All right. Well, the m ost common way, through iReport, is they will upload their story on the site. And, we go through the site every day and we see, like, what is better, sort of go along with what people wanna hear, what t news is We call them, e mail them, we verify it, we get the whole story, we get as much information as we can. Um, if it seems to iReport goes up on CNN.com, and we try to get more attention on CNN TV or CNN.com with that story, um, on a case by case basis, but, yeah. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, what are the benefits or the drawbacks of th e whole process? RESPONDENT G: things that you probably never would have gotten to our attention, you know, through iReport. Um, viewpoints on things that may not have been able to get out the re, you know? Um, different angles, things that, there may not be a CNN camera crew out there to report or, you know? Um, I that took place, a bunch of wildfires and brush fires, I think it
Appendix B (Continued) 168 was back in the winter, and, um (cell phone interference) this man was going through this devastated neighborhood, all. This guy was in t hat neighborhood and he lives there. So, you know, people seeing these things actually INVESTIGATOR: Any drawbac ks or any challenges? RESPONDENT G: more and more people realizing the value of iReport, the challenge every the average guy or woman out there who is sending this you know, getting people to understand that. And every day, it gets easier, I guess, to let people understand that. But, I a drawback ( laughter INVESTIG ATOR: ( Laughter definition? What would be your explanation? RESPONDENT G: Um, the definition is just, um, the news follows people ( inaudible ) for CNN ( laughter sending their news, news that happens to them, and sharing their views on what happens in the news, as well. And, um, you know, seeing somewhere that no one would know to find s great to see a lot of be the biggest story in the world for me to document it and share it on CNN and maybe get some mention and attention somewhere on CNN, you know? There are things happen ing all the time that could be considered interesting, newsworthy, a video. INVESTIGATOR:
Appendix B (Continued) 169 RESPONDENT G: Um, to me, the value is ( laughter stuff. INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT G: The v chance always to get, or getting a different angle or a different take on a story that maybe we are talking about live that we may have not talked about that aspect of it. Um, and the fact that the re are all these cameras and people out number of them out there. Um, the G20 protest, just yesterday, we got so many pictures and videos of, um, the protests and everything that we would have gotten, like, one we have a chance to get more aspects and more, you know, sides of the story. INVESTIGATOR: een content found on iReport, as opposed to traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT G: INVESTIGATOR: Web site or broadcast and then go to iReport, how is the content different? RESPONDENT G: INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT G: on CNN.com or CN mean, the iReport are edited into CNN content, so, but you stuff, in a lot of cases. And, some iRepor ters come out and do, like, full packages, just like if they were doing, you know, a TV package. So, um, but, so a lot of it is, you know, straight video, um, sound bites, they call it a net package, y.
Appendix B (Continued) 170 stuff, you know? Yeah. Getting more, in some cases, you it is, you might see a lot more detail on what it is. And, if you or CNN.com, you kn unlimited space with iReport ( laughter the deal. INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). So, how do you determine an iReport submission has news value? RESPONDENT G: are going that day; depend, um, iReport or video to video or photo t o photo. that reaction. Um, something you can see, just from working seen being a big story in the past, you can, kind of, see it mold necessarily, either. INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT G: You know what I mean. INVESTIGATOR: Explain that, though. Expla in how it might not necessarily fit into a mold. RESPONDENT G: think of. Some guys were washing windows on what was you wash the windows on that huge building? So, it showed, would be exciting or great, but it was just a really well done video, just really good. And, it was, kind of, just a little slice
Appendix B (Continued) 171 that would immediately hit someone as being a CNN.com story, or whatever. INVESTIGATOR: Hmm. I think we may have hit this one earlier. But, who decides if an iReport submission gets used on air or on CNN.com? RESPONDENT G: Yeah, any number of differ ent people. So, um, you know, we go to the editors of CNN.com. We go to the CNN TV people. We go to producers, you know. There are producers for different shows and for different sections of the site, too, you know, show biz and tech and all that. So, about something. And, if it seems like a story that really would, you know, connect with the tech audience or the specific person, you know. So, again, like, uh, I probably said, like iReports, case by case, it depends who you go to and who decides where it g oes and everything. INVESTIGATOR: I gotcha. So, is there a process for monitoring the content on iReport and what is it? RESPONDENT G: every morning or evening, depending on what your shift is, to in on that assignment. But, uh, myself, I go on the site every da everything, um, pretty much all the way back to what I left from the day before, and just give it a walk through, um, for monitoring the content, of course, and picking out things that would be worth goin g after, calling the person and getting more information. INVESTIGATOR: ( inaudible does that work? How does the community know about the assignments? How do you share the assignments with the
Appendix B (Continued) 172 community? RESPONDENT G: There is an assignment desk page that has all of them. And have this long t a seven without driving, so people documented their day without taking their car and maybe taking the train or whatever, and they would take their camera and document it. So, things y to e mail people without driving, that sounds really like something so and so would be really interested in. So, I call him and say, hey, check this out, you know, it seems like something you would really like to do. And, myself and David Williams, we really them and, you know, what their likes are, and what kind of stuff they like to do, and stuff. So, we try to keep in touch with them, u m, encourage them to keep doing more and stuff. INVESTIGATOR: So, describe the process used to ensure iReport content used for broadcast and by CNN.com is accurate and meets news standards. RESPONDENT G: by case thing. Um, so a really big story or really something that really requires a lot of careful deliberation, you know, we talk to the standards and a a story on some guy sharing his opinion or, again, somebody just wanna get the story and make sure everything is, you know, verified. say, a crime occurring, something like that, something with by case thing. INVESTIGATOR: So, the case of ma ybe a more feature type of story versus
Appendix B (Continued) 173 hard news, is the vetting process a little different? Or, is it the same? Are you more diligent on breaking news, or how does that work? RESPONDENT G: Yeah, yeah. Breaking news, we have to, um, really verify what example. The, um, something that happened, some kind of news story happening in Florida. Our southeast desk is up there, and we can see if the affiliates are aware of this story happening, or whatever yeah, we verify with a lot of other people, depending on the, sort of, seriousness of it and how important it is for right now, take that, versus, you know, someo ne just speaking on something ( laughter ), you know? INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). So, is there a focus on developing relationships with the community members who submit content regularly, and if so, why? RESPONDENT G: (Cell phone interference) INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, and building relationships. RESPONDENT G: Oh yeah, oh yeah. And, Dave Williams, like I said, and I try does reach out to the community, but yeah, we wanna, um, build relationships, we encourage them, they get, like, free iReport T shirts and stuff like that, too. One of the they meet up with other iReporters in their community. y a great thing is seeing iReporters give each other advice and help now trying to ask for questions from the rest of the community to interview someone else. And, so much of the stuff we see com pletely just the iReporters came up with the idea and went out and did it. There are some collaboration There was, you know, something was just a photo
Appendix B (Continued) 174 like to do stuff, New York and one in Paris, France. And these three will do, like, a similar photo project together and, kind of, see photos from where they are. And, the great thing is seei ng some of the different perspectives from different parts of the world that are coming out on maybe a similar story. INVESTIGATOR: Do you see any downside to allowing the public to share their media with CNN? RESPONDENT G: Um, we monitor content really closely, so anything that INVESTIGATOR: What factors prevent iReport sub missions from being used by CNN? RESPONDENT G: Um, any number of things. You know, if the content may not be a newsworthy thing that day or may not be good quality. best iReport this time, but next time, you can do something memorable. You can contact them and say, hey, this might of reaching out to the community. People have said, this person would do such a great iReport if they just changed know, um, it might reach CNN next time if you, maybe, shot it this way or with this angle, or things like that. INVESTIGATOR: So, does the public have a role in deciding what rep orts make air? RESPONDENT G: Um, obviously there are iReporters and there is the public. to space, but like to the edge of space? And had a camera up there and shot some pictures of the earth from above. It was a couple hundred dollars or something it cost them. Um, that story got linked up outside of CNN and got something, like, 50,000 page views, just from that. And nd of, slipped under our radar. We saw how many people were responding to this, and we went after it,
Appendix B (Continued) 175 and it became a story on CNN.com the next week, and that was completely the public, the Internet community saying, hey, this is really interesting, telli ng us we should do it ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). How did it slip under your radar? RESPONDENT G: to say. It could have come in at 3 in the morning. We could have been really bus anything, but it happens ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: So, in that case, how did it finally get brought to your attention? RESPONDENT G: We have different things, like, most viewed, most shared, most commented, and it was up there in most viewed. INVESTIGATOR: So that algorithm brought it to your attention? RESPONDENT G: and we have the top iReporters of the week, I think it is. And, um, so there are different ways to highlight. I automatically just highlight them on the site, right there. And, of course, we work to use CNN to highlight stuff too. INVESTIGATOR: Does iReport represent a significant change in the way news is gathered? RESPONDENT G: more of a spotlight on it, you know? A bigger place for citizen journalists to have their say and tell their story. INVESTIGATOR: covered? RESPONDENT G: ( Laughter INVESTIGATOR: All right, coo l. Thanks so much. RESPONDENT G: Yeah, thank you.
Appendix B (Continued) 176 ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to intermittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
Appendix B (Continued) 177 Respondent H 9 25 09 (AUDIO STARTS ABRUPTLY.) ( Muffled noise ). ( Inaudible ). INVESTIGATOR: Participant I ( mistaken, should be Participant H really identifying the people. So, how long have you worked in news and what is your experience? RESPONDENT H: Okay, well, this is actually my firs t full and freelanced for a while, so anything from, like, working in a radio station, a TV station, a couple Web sites, magazines, a newspaper and freelance writing. INVESTIGA TOR: know, how would you typify your experience working in news? RESPONDENT H: s been standard that every single news room has been been static. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: U be anything from events and things people are doing to slice of life, just, kind of, a day in the life of person X. INVESTIGATOR: Okay Who determines what is newsworthy? Amani Channel: Respondent: H H
Appendix B (Continued) 178 RESPONDENT H: there are some facets of newsworthy events, and you look at those sides of things. INVESTIGATOR: ( Inaudible ). RESPONDENT H: Uh, gosh ( laughte r ). INVESTIGATOR: ( Laughter ). RESPONDENT H: Well, part of it is, like, um, prominence, if it has to deal with a certain person and how big are they. Timeliness is a huge, things that are old, unle ss they are really important. Um, people also like to see conflict and some sort of story on that. Those are some examples of things that we look for INVESTIGATOR: So, if it were an academic sort of definition, newsworthy? RESPONDENT H: Sure. Well, part of it is the people, um, because, you know, about it, then obviously, it gets blown up all over newspaper pages and on TV. And, obviously, jou rnalists are also part of INVESTIGATOR: What role would you say you play in the decision making process of content in your current position? RESPONDENT H: and trying to come up with material, and then, pitching that my job is to make sure we have representation on CNN.com in the evenings and also on weekends. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: person on the shift, you kinda do everything.
Appendix B (Continued) 179 INVESTIGATOR: So, based on your past experience, I know you had some internships and that sort of thing, can you explain the traditional news selection process? And, the question is in a broadcast news room, so whatever your background is. How does the process work from your understanding? RESPONDENT H: Yeah, well part of it is, I get is, um, this is kind of silly, but on in other parts of the nation going on, and, um, you know, some things are big enough paper, or ( inaudible ) paper, which is more of my background, then you have reporters out there who are scoping everything out being reporters, and they know determining what gets selected. Li ke, somebody goes down to City Hall, and the mayor is taking a shower in this really money is going ( laughter big part of it, as well. INVESTIGATOR: So, ho w did the Internet change news gathering practices? RESPONDENT H: to just keep calling around to find various information, but now, so many municipalities and also government bodies have made inf ormation available online, so if I wanna go get a court document from the state of Washington, I can do that more easily online, instead of having to go, physically, to the court house. There are some places you have to do that, like, in Champagne, IL, wh ere I went to school. You have to go to the court house and still know how to compute records, but a lot of places have made things available online. And oh, just Google it. and maybe some possible actions for how to chase a story down. INVESTIGATOR: What is the most common way news is gathered from non full time CNN staff?
Appendix B (Continued) 180 RESPONDENT H: iReporters? INVESTIGATOR: iReporters. RESPONDENT H: iReporters, all right, because that would be two different things. Basically, on the iReport, w e have a site where anybody can talk about any story, basically. And, they file filtered, although we do have several moderation re INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What are the benefits or drawbacks to that process? RESPONDENT H: newsworthy, like, someone is sending in a ph ( laughter ). INVESTIGATOR: I heard of that o ne. RESPONDENT H: ( Laughter ). And, I guess, you have things that are, kind of, just plain old, not newsworthy, and other times, you have things that are just, kind of, out there and obscene, sometimes, so we have to be careful. Obviously, in our vetting having something chopped off or anything. Um, but, yeah, sometimes, we just get a whole variety of things. You never bank on user generated con tent all the time, because you INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: piece on X from iReporters. We may put up an assignment;
Appendix B (Continued) 181 ve t that topic. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Did we talk about any drawbacks ? I guess we kinda did about the ( inaudible ). Explain what iReport is. RESPONDENT H: for news. So, part of what it is, people writing in or sending us videos telling us, hey, this is going on in my community; you guys need to know about it. So, part of it is, people telling us the news. Another facet would be people weighing in on the news and giving perspectives and opinions that you would see on, like, Situation Room or some of the show s. place for discussion about the news, too. So, somebody posts something, just like, hey, what do you guys think about the G20 summit? They may not have went there and have pictures of anything, but they may have a certain view and want other people to weigh in, and this robust discussion, kind of, grows out of that little post. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: ink people at CNN are seeing the value more and more, especially in, everywher e all the time, so these iReporters are almost these people are embedded in their own community. They almost like semi and giving us a more personal view, instead of something expert oriented. So, I think faces and personal stories have gathering process. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What is t he difference between content found on iReport, as opposed to traditionally gathered news on CNN or CNN.com?
Appendix B (Continued) 182 RESPONDENT H: newsworthy on iReport, so pretty much, you can say what you wanna say. Yeah, but in the sense of, like, news have to go seek out all these experts and people and call them together for some sort of story. With iReport, the people and their personal experiences are comi ng to you. little easier, um, with news gathering, because instead of you having to go call a doctor and find a patient who is experiencing symptoms of Swine Flu, you have someone writing in sa ying, my cousin had Swine Flu, and you can call that person right away. So, it makes it a little easier, at times, to find anecdotes and personal examples. INVESTIGATOR: sort of the content and how iReport? RESPONDENT H: Well, I mean, CNN is like any other news organization trying I guess the biggest difference with iReport is the personal reports, going back to the floods, and the Doppler radar, and have all the statistics, and maybe a couple pe ople. But, with through, as opposed to having a writer write it. Like, this is ad of having speaking about their experience. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. How do you determine if an iReport submission has news value? RESPONDENT H: he news that photos, and obviously, there have been some incidents P
Appendix B (Continued) 183 Is there conflict? Is, um, you know, is there human interest, which really, is what we excel at every day, but we also tap into the hard news just as well. INVESTIGATOR: Who decides if an iReport submission is used on air or on CNN.com? RESPONDENT H: Okay, well we go through a vetting process, like anything real or not. And basically, what happens in the vetting process, which is mostly our team, but there are other people in the company will see an iR eport they like or a some basic information, like, when did you shoot this? Hmm. specifically? And, if something seems a little fishy, like any good journalist, you keep them on the phone and keep asking questions to feel this person out, basically. So, you ask all these questions and try to figure out the story, and if hey, you guys are more tapped into this. Do these pictures, ve been getting from this protest in Germany, or whatever? So, we do all the measures of making sure something is accurate. So, once it which tells the public, hey, someone from CNN contacted this person. This is golden, it checks out. And, when that talk as a team about the piece of content. Is it something just a littl e bit of a different angle? Um, and one of us goes and we hope they d o. INVESTIGATOR: Is there a process for monitoring content on iReport? I think you already kind of talked about that, but what is it?
Appendix B (Continued) 184 RESPONDENT H: time for the job, and sometimes, these dis cussions get a little overviewed, so we have to watch out, you know, if there are personal attacks, then we, kind of, warn people not to do that. In a worst case scenario, those people could be banned, I guess, if they were really egregious and, just, lik e, giving blatant person attacks or saying things that are just what happens. And then, also, when the material first comes onto the site, um, as I previously said, if it violates our communit y guidelines, there are moderators that pull it in 15 minutes. INVESTIGATOR: broadcast for CNN or CNN.com is accurate. RESPONDENT H: Yeah, u INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: asking what the story is and the background and the 5 Ws and all that good stuff, we also have a few questions that we o trouble. Like, for we make sure we talk to the author of that content and we permission to usually, we want people to be over 18 years old because, permission to use it or not. But, if we have people who are 13 18 who submit an iReport kids who go out there with video cameras, and we wanna questions that we ask, just to be safe. INVESTIGATOR: You said with the vetting process, you do your due diligence.
Appendix B (Continued) 185 Can you give some exam ples of how you make sure the from the Internet? RESPONDENT H: Okay. Um, one of the best examples is the elections in Iran. I was working the day after the election, and our site was flooded, absolutely flooded with content, because the Iranian government had shut down. Like, YouTube and MySpace and all these social networking sites. So, they were all going to iReport, which was really exc iting. I actually was the only person on the desk. I would e mail or call these people, because you can list an e mail or a phone number, or mail. And, right away I would say, oh, did you shoot this video or where did you get this fro m? And, people would say, oh, I got this from my friend on Facebook. Can I get this friend? And, in one instance out of mailed me the original fil PhotoShop to see what kind of camera it was shot with and does the ratio look accurate, you know, was there anything doctored about it. Some of it is, I guess, just knowing photography and knowing when something in PhotoShop looks like. But, in that case, they were the original files, and he was able to give me additional information. And, I talked to the international desk, and they said, yeah, the protest did just happen, and yeah, actually, some of this looks really similar to the photos we got from one of our embedded people out there. Yes, we have no doubt this is real. So, anonymity ( inaudible ). But, all the other videos I got were, could look on YouTube or Facebook and find them to find the source of this. INVESTIGATOR: sent to you is accurate, or is it the actual person who has produced the content? RESPONDENT H: eing an iReporter is you are sending
Appendix B (Continued) 186 also, the content, you wanna make sure a suspect, and we all weigh in on it and have a conversation. y too good to be true, and every once in a blue from, like, an affiliate who happened to be in the area. Like, an example of that was after on Galveston, Texas, there was one house left standing in the fake. How did just one house survive this? And the photo ended up being a huge iReport success and a part of that INVESTIGATOR: Is there a focus on devel oping relationships with iReport community members who submit content regularly? RESPONDENT H: Definitely. It was a little weird when I first came here, I was u really do foster a relationship with these people you talk to a lot. Like, one of them, Chris Morrow, who has been all over the place, she shoots videos of celebrities and all sorts of neat stuff in San Diego, and you know, she e mails when she gets con tent, definitely do talk to some of these people, and with some of you should ad d a microphone so your audio comes out a kind of, teaching them a thing o r two, just about the practice of journalism and, in turn, getting better content out of it. So,
Appendix B (Continued) 187 INVESTIGATOR: Is there a down side to allowing the public to share their content with iReport? RESPONDENT H: Um, I mean, I could al ways go with the old, oh, diversity is such a great thing. We get all these opinions out there and is, because people end up being really proud of what they produce, and it becomes a hobby. And, some of these people wind up in journalism or just find something they really enjoy doing, or they enjoy interacting with the comm iReport. I guess the only thing would be if you are a really, really opinionated, I hope you have a thick skin, because view of you, and there are people on the site who do videos angry at all, but they were civil about it. INVESTIGATOR: RESPONDENT H: get a lot of com line for it. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. What factors prevent iReport submissions from being used by CNN or CNN.com? RESPONDENT H: Well, beside it being just not newsworthy, in that case, we came from. Two, if the person is younger than 13 and the ions, usually, um, we get a lot of people excited to send us tries to slip one past us. And, like I said, if the story sounds I think it was the one in Buffalo, New York,
Appendix B (Continued) 188 earlier, and the person said the news channel told them to Why did a 16 year old have a $3,000 camera? Things like that. You got close enough to the plane? Really? Really? sense things, and the more flags that go off, you just keep talking and say, all right, well, thank you fo r your story. And, there are, just, so many holes that things did not make Use This. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. Does the public have a role in deciding what iReports make air? RESPONDENT H: Well, they do have a mechanism of telling what they think is important. Part of it is, there are certain stories that generate a lot of comments in the community. So, if people are iReport and usually reach out to tha t person. Um, other times, there are iReports that just get a lot of hits, but we 5,000 hits? Is it being linked somewhere? And, you look at it and you go, oh, this story is also good. So, the community, INVESTIGATOR: By Facebooking or Tweeting, like a link to iReport content? RESPONDENT H: We have a metric on our site where it says how many times INVESTIGATOR: hared outside iReport to the social networks? RESPONDENT H: Yes. INVESTIGATOR: Okay. So, does iReport represent a significant change in the way news is gathered?
Appendix B (Continued) 189 RESPONDENT H: Yes, basically ( laughter ). Um, some people are a little scared of it, obvio getting to people who, you know, wanna tell their stories. These people are always saying, hey, something is going on up and telling you this story on th e site. And, you know, So, instead of having to, um, go out and search for these examples of, like a person suffering fro a disease, you might have something like that on the site. Someone who is clearly comfortable with talking about it, already, in a public forum, so we just reach out to the person and get a little more ba ckground on that story. So yeah, I definitely would INVESTIGATOR: How does it change it? RESPONDENT H: Well, your still always gonna need those experts weighing in, because they are the preeminent folks in their field, and you are still gonna need to comb through documents and, you know, gather information that way, use wires to find out the quick breaking news. But, in terms of finding people that are going through things, iReport is usually a pre tty good way to gather that information, and sometimes, breaking news too. to us by iReport. Like, there was an explosion in Bozeman, Montana, and we saw a couple of iReports about it, and it wasn started a story on .com, we had images, and it started trending on Twitter, and it just, like, we found out about it because an iReporter sent it in. INVESTIGATOR: RESPO NDENT H: e was 85 years old, and her neighbor helped year old woman with a German accent singing, I like to move my lips and nod
Appendix B (Continued) 190 iReport sent in and being circulated around the company. that feature content. INVESTIGATOR: Anything else? RESPONDENT H: Nope. INVESTIGATOR: Thanks very much. ( Muffled noise ). (AUDIO ENDS ABRUPTLY.) ( Inaudibles due to inte rmittent low volume, loud muffled noise or cell phone interference.) END OF AUDIO
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subfield code a E14-SFE0003320
Gatekeeping and citizen journalism :
b a qualitative examination of participatory newsgathering
h [electronic resource] /
by Amani Channel.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
ABSTRACT: For nearly sixty years, scholars have studied how information is selected, vetted, and shared by news organizations. The process, known as gatekeeping, is an enduring mass communications theory that describes the process by which news is gathered and filtered to audiences. It has been suggested, however, that in the wake of online communications the traditional function of media gatekeeping is changing. The infusion of citizen-gathered media into news programming is resulting in what some call a paradigm shift. As mainstream news outlets adopt and encourage public participation, it is important that researchers have a greater understanding of the theoretical implications related to participatory media and gatekeeping. This study will be among the first to examine the adoption of citizen journalism by a major cable news network. It will focus on CNN's citizen journalism online news community called iReport, which allows the public to share and submit "unfiltered" content. Vetted submissions that are deemed newsworthy can then be broadcasted across CNN's networks, and published on CNN.com. This journalism practice appears to follow the thoughts of Nguyen (2006), who states that, "future journalists will need to be trained to not only become critical gate-keepers but also act as listeners, discussion and forum leaders/mediators in an intimate interaction with their audiences." The goal of the paper is to lay a foundation for understanding how participatory media is utilized by a news network to help researchers possibly develop new models and hypotheses related to gatekeeping theory.
Advisor: Randy Miller, Ph.D.
Keywords: Web 2.0
x Mass Communications
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.