CNN Embraces Citizen Journalists Despite Competitive Threat

12 07 2010

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Wether or not you agree blogs should be ¬†considered journalism is one thing. But one thing for certain is that citizen journalism is on the rise, mostly due to the increased popularity of social media. CNN has realized this and accommodated aspiring journalists by creating iReport, a service that allows ordinary people to share news, opinions, and more. The best stories are inspected and approved by CNN and used in CNN platforms. Some have claimed CNN is the most social media savvy news organization, but the network’s viewership is taking a fall. Ironically, CNN president Jonathan Klein thinks social networking sites pose as a competitive threat to news organizations. He might be on to something, but first lets focus on how social networks are changing journalism.

It appears as though the large news conglomerates are losing power over the news. The advent and explosion of social networks have made it possible for anyone to share a story over the internet and this has created quite the stir. Journalists across the country are losing their jobs and numerous newspapers have had to shut down. Many citizen journalists are not trained to be objective or autonomous and its damaging the reputation of journalist in general. Professional journalist have valuable connections that help create investigative stories that citizen journalists may not have access too. Without quality journalist, the fate of our democracy is in jeopardy. On the other hand, online journalist have been accredited for uncovering important stories like the “Phantom Congressional District” where billions of dollars worth of errors were found in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. News conglomerates are no longer the almighty gatekeeper of news, so stories that may have not previously been reported ¬†due to conflicts of interest have more potential to be reported. There are many pros and cons of citizen journalism, but essentially it offers a potentially respectable news alternative. So what does all of this have to do with CNN?

For the good of the American people, professional journalist and citizen journalist must find a middle ground. If the two can work together then American citizens can be more informed and prepared to make educated decisions concerning our democracy. I believe CNN’s iReport could be the answer: a social network that lets citizen journalist with quality stories to be heard. Perhaps if other news organizations are willing to adopt this concept, we could remarkably improve American journalism.

Even though CNN’s viewership numbers are falling to other news organizations, they managed to make 2009 their most profitable year to date. Maybe Klein needs to view social networks as a valuable asset and not a threat if he wants to top last years earnings.