Innovation That Matters

CNN 'Open Stories' combine citizen journalism and professional reporting

Publishing & Media

Citizen journalism has been shaking up the news industry for years already, and CNN’s iReport section is one of many efforts by traditional news outlets to include citizen voices. Earlier this month, however, CNN launched a new effort, dubbed “Open Stories”, that aims to take that concept a step further by crowdsourcing coverage of important topics through a combination of citizen and professional journalists. CNN has some 750,000 active citizen iReporters, it says. But while the news site will sometimes vet and incorporate an iReport story into its main news coverage, most citizen-contributed stories have remained separate in the iReport section. Through the new collaboration with creative agency The Barbarian Group, however, CNN iReport aims to create multifaceted accounts of a single story, with contributors posting comments, videos, photos and updates. The project was announced at SXSW, and a beta version currently features an Open Story on the conference and festival. Since then, an Open Story on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami has also been launched. In either case, Open Stories combine vetted iReports with reports from CNN staff, all placed on a map and along a timeline. Bylines are shared, and contributors’ avatars appear along the accompanying timeline. A gallery in the center of the piece displays the photos and videos posted so far, and just below it is a ticker showing the most recent activity. A “story” section, meanwhile, adds written context from a CNN producer. A CNN iReport blog explains: “What we’re working toward here is a true collaboration among a news organization and the many people who experience an event first-hand.” CNN’s Open Stories project makes us think of Danish newspaper Nyhedsavisen’s effort a few years back to merge citizen journalism with its traditional counterpart. It’s certainly an interesting new twist on the whole phenomenon. One to watch! (Related: À la carte service from CNN sells stories for $199Citizen journalism, from text message to mapCrowdfunding (and pitching) news stories.) Spotted by: Katharina Kieck



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