And the award goes to…Citizen Journalism

CNN iReport’s Lila King announces the winners of the first-ever CNN iReport Awards

By Chris Creegan

Yesterday’s inaugural CNN iReport Awards show how far mainstream news organisations have come in embracing citizen journalism as a source of online video content.

Launched in August 2006, CNN iReport is an initiative that encourages people around the world to act as reporters, covering events via mobile or digital camera and sending in their footage.

CNN saw the value in such a system after both the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and the 7/7 Bombings in London in 2005. The power of citizen journalism became clear, with people at the scene able to obtain key pictures and video before mainstream news even gatherers arrived.

And so, fast-forward five years. Technology has improved and now it is increasingly easy to become a makeshift reporter.

Here are the winners from the video section of the CNN’s first iReport awards, and their footage highlights the ever-increasing potential of citizen video journalism.

Breaking news: Michael Roberts (Early images of Deepwater Horizon fire)

Original reporting: Percy von Lipinski (Bison as pet)

Interview: Tristan Macaraeg (16-year-old interviews classmate on living in foster care)

Community Choice Award: Samantha Bolton (Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail)

The variety of stories, the quality of video and the diversity of contributors involved all highlight just how much citizen journalism has developed in the past five years.

As it becomes easier and easier to capture and upload high quality video, more avenues for original journalism like this will open up.

It is refreshing to see these citizen journalists getting the credit that their work deserves. We are living in an era where much of our news is sourced in this manner, and so broadcasters could stand to benefit by following in the footsteps of CNN and recognising this fact.

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