Speaking at DNA 2008, in Brussels today, Chris Press told delegates that CNN launched the standalone beta site to accommodate the citizen journalism content it was unable to publish on CNN.com or use in television news.
"The aim was to create a separate community for our reporters and then enable the site to develop its own personality and functionality," he said.
"People can create personal profiles, they can make comments on other people's posts, they can tag and vote on posts, link extensively to other sites like Facebook and Digg.
"In many ways it's a lot like YouTube, but with a focus on personal reporting."
Since inception 18 months ago, he said, CNN had received over 100, 000 submissions from the public for its iReporter scheme, but was unable to use 90 per cent of the material because it did not fit with day-to-day editorial lines.
"iReport.com was launched to address two things. The first goes back to that ten per cent figure. Fundamentally, when people were submitting to CNN nine out of ten people were disappointed," he said.
"They would send stuff to us and they would never get to see it on the web or the screen…so what we wanted to do was create a separate area that was distinct from CNN but allied to it, where people could make there submissions and have them immediately put up on the site for review by their peers and not just by CNN.
"That is the second point about it, the idea was to create a community. That is the key value as having it as a separate site, to build a community of people that want to submit content."
The community would also be responsible for moderating the site and raising doubts about authenticity of submitted material, he added, with an external moderator acting only to remove overtly inappropriate material.
"It's only about three weeks old, but hopefully it will develop in this way where user-moderation and the community co-ordinate and filter out some content and make the best stuff bubble up to the top, which we can then use on our website," Press added.
"We really want to get people involved, not only in submitting, but managing that content and give people even more control.
"It's tough as journalists to give control away to people, but it really seems to be working in this case."
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