Saturday, July 7, 2007

Consumer Generated News Reporting - July 6, 2007

I recently read an article on BuzzMachine by Jeff Jarvis, who is the founder of Entertainment Weekly and regular contributor to New York Daily News, about the cultural phenomenon surrounding the launch of the iPhone. Specifically, Jarvis was interested in the fact that never before have consumers covered an event in so much detail. Hey Mr. Jarvis, if that’s new to you, good luck on remaining a reporter!

Everyone with a camera phone and an internet connection was providing live coverage of anything and everything leading up to the iPhones being released into the world. Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other switchboards were being hit from all sides with curious (and probably jealous) news-seekers. The coverage was so good that major networks substituted their own reporting for bloggers’ content.

Check out all the glowing blue screens recording the fireworks!

To ride the wave of consumer generated media, CNN launched iReport in 2006 in an attempt to aggregate consumer media into one common news platform. It was not a bad idea and it is still up and running, but the problem is that CNN and other news mongers are not set-up to distribute consumer content in a way that presents it completely unbiased. As such, people are less likely to interact regularly with iReport or anything like it.

Flickr, Photobucket, or YouTube are in an optimal position to begin to set-up the world’s first truly aggregate source of grassroot consumer reporting that is not associated with evil manipulative news corporations with their own agendas.

However, the caveat to a successful launch that sustains interest over time is to provide, and continue to provide, an organzied structure for the content; one that categorizes the consumer generated news in a unique way that provides views into an event from multiple angles. Essentially, it would be a 360 degree view of an event. This way, no matter what perspective a person has from an event they are able to place it into an appropriate category.

I believe that consumer generated media is also most likely to work when the event or whatever that is being covered is known about ahead of time, otherwise, services like CNN’s iReport make more sense to send content to, as they are set-up to respond quickly to breaking news.

Consumers will inevitably look to the major news for major developments in their world, and this habit will not change until they begin to trust bloggers. That trust will begin to develop when new-seekers start to realize the value having unbiased multiple perspectives on a “premeditated” event can deliver.

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