Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

CNN: We Don’t Need YouTube and Twitter to Tell Us What’s Going on in Iran–We’ve Got iReport

iran-ireport-cnnThe “Iran is Twitter’s defining moment” meme is losing momentum to the “Iran is YouTube’s defining moment” meme. But CNN has a different spin. Time Warner’s (TWX) cable news channel wants us to know that it isn’t dependent on either the micromessaging service or Google’s (GOOG) video site to report what’s happening in Iran–it has iReport.

For those of you who don’t watch CNN or visit with any frequency, iReport is the news service’s attempt to create its own user-generated news hub. It’s supposed be to be able attract eyeballs on its own and in some cases, feed the Web site and the cable channel with free content donated by viewers.

To date, iReport is best known as the place where someone posted a bogus item about Apple (AAPL) CEO  Steve Jobs. But CNN says it has been using the site heavily to augment its Iran coverage. From a press release it sent out earlier this week: “Since last week, we’ve received 4555 iReport submissions related to Iran–including more than 1600 this past Saturday and Sunday alone, and an additional 689 just yesterday. To date, 150 of the Iran-related iReports have been vetted and verified by CNN producers for use on CNN air or online–something the likes of YouTube or Flickr just aren’t equipped to do given their lack of newsgathering infrastructure.” (Yesterday CNN told me it added another 399 Iran-related iReports, and that seven had made it onto air. Presumably those numbers are still increasing.)

The breast-beating seems a bit much given that CNN, like every other cable network, has been happy to play up any bit of social media it uses in its Iran reporting. But the point about the vetting and verification is interesting.

I checked with CNN rep Jennifer Martin, who spelled out what that means: That CNN producers have contacted the people who sent in all of the Iran-related iReports it has featured on the network and at least verified that they are who they say they are. That in itself seems worthwhile, and maybe even worth bragging about.

Andy Plesser at Beet.TV has more, including an interview with producer Lila King.

Here’s an example of some the “verified” footage the network has used so far. For some reason the play/pause/etc. controls don’t show up on these embedded videos, but I’ve been able to get them to start and stop by clicking on the image:

Iranians shouting “Allah O Akbar” at night:

A pro-Mousavi rally:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work