In 2006, mega news media outlet CNN launched iReport, a “citizen journalism initiative that allows people from around the globe to contribute pictures and video of breaking news stories”. The page was one of the first user-generated social media sites of its kind, and gave an official location for citizens to leave their reporting. Everything on the interactive and visual webpage, which can be accessed directly off of CNN’s site, is unedited raw news from citizens all over the world wanting to play an active role in the journalism process.
iReport accepts stories on anything, with topics ranging from breaking news, to original reporting, commentary, compelling imagery, personal stories and interviews. For those wanting to continuously contribute to the site, the page has an “Assignment Desk” section that offers suggestions on stories that all of CNN is working on.
The stories that citizens contribute have been proven to be so compelling that CNN will often vet them and add them to part of their own coverage, which this did with 10,789 out of over 100,000 stories submitted in 2012. These personal recounts allow the media source to breath life into any of their stories by adding a unique and unseen point of view most news never gets.
Here are two historically significant reports that citizens were able to generate.
Virginia Tech Massacre
On April 16, 2007, graduate student Jamal Albarghouti was able to capture primary footage of the shooting that happened on his campus by using his camera phone. Albarghouti was walking around campus that morning when he heard gunshots and saw a rush of police officers come to the scene of the crime. After listening to the polices demands to take cover on the ground, Albarghouti started his recording. The video consists of mostly blurry bodies, but gunshots can clearly be heard towards the end of the minute long clip. Albarghouti was a frequent visitor CNN’s iReport page, and knew that even in that time of terror, there was a story that needed to be told. Since news had not yet broke about the school’s shooting, CNN paid Albarghouti for the rights to his video, which was then spread by countless other news sources. As Albarghouti selflessly exposed himself as an eyewitness to the event, the entire instance demonstrated the need for more citizen journalists.
In 2012, iReport was filled with stories, pictures and videos of the political happenings that were taking place in Cairo, Egypt. On November 27, 2012, citizen journalist Hasan Amin posted 12 moving photos of the protests that happened after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy decided to stay in power. His pictures were powerful enough to win him an iReport Award that year. In his story that is filled with broken English and run on sentences, his anger and frustration is palpable and his pictures work to show those emotions that are felt by the rest of his city. CNN called his pictures “so raw and visceral, they really stand out and grip the viewer” in his nomination for the award.
iReport also isn’t only there to accumulate stories on the scary and terrifying news of the world. The site also posts interesting, funny and beautiful stories and pictures daily. With their social media accounts and hashtag, #cnnireport, you can quickly find all the latest reports and many of the more positive ones on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.