These days social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr are integral to most news organizations' news-gathering processes. CNN launched its own user-generated content initiative – iReport – back in 2006, allowing viewers to contribute to breaking news and share their personal stories on CNN.com.
iReport officially turned five on Aug. 2nd. In that half-decade, iReporters have sent us some of the most moving and meaningful footage and images from tsunami zones from India to Japan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London bombings and more. The hardships, the bravery and the skill of our iReporters has only heightened the value of their contributions, enabling CNN's coverage of breaking news stories to be not only more immediate but more emotive.
From small acorns, great oaks grow, or at least so goes the saying. Well, the same could be said about iReport. Did you know that the initiative began with an image of a furry critter with sunstroke? CNN Digital’s Lila King witnessed that moment and how it prompted others to begin participating online. You can read her report into where iReport started, what makes it tick, and where it is headed here.
CNN is celebrating iReport’s fifth birthday by encouraging contributors worldwide to host meet-upsin their community. The gatherings are a chance for relationships forged in the virtual world to become concrete real-life communities and for would-be iReporters to learn how to get involved. Here in Hong Kong, 30 curious iReporters-to-be showed up to a meet-up last week and there are a total of almost eighty iReport communities joining in elsewhere (if you want to find out the closest meet-up in your area or if you want to host one in your community, you can RSVP here).