iReport (also I-Report) is CNN's public journalism initiative that allows people from around the globe to contribute pictures and video of breaking news stories from their own towns and neighborhood. It is similar to Wikinews in that it allows, and encourages, regular citizens to submit stories, photos and videos from anywhere where there is breaking news. The program was launched on August 2, 2006 to take advantage of the newsgathering capabilities of citizens at the scene of notable events. I-Report grew out of another related program: CNN's Fan Zone, which allowed viewers to contribute pictures and video from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Two events in particular highlighted the necessity of showcasing viewer-submitted content during news shows. The tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 7/7 bombings in London gave citizen journalists at the scene the opportunity to report on the events as they experienced them. Pictures from both were difficult to obtain in the moments after each tragedy. Broadcast news outlets, depending on agency or bureau video, were fortunate to receive submissions from people on the scene. Developing this format became a necessity for cable and network news shows.
The success of iReport has led to, for instance, the 2007 New Year's Eve coverage featuring iParty in which viewers' photos of their celebrations were shown on television.
Although I-Report proved popular from its inception, one event in particular catapulted such citizen journalism onto the international stage. On April 16, 2007, video submitted by graduate student Jamal Albarghouti captured the sounds of gunfire during the Virginia Tech massacre. CNN paid Albarghouti an undisclosed amount for the exclusive rights to the video he shot on his Nokia N70. The immediacy of the pictures demonstrated the potential for such content.
Then on August 1, 2007, one day before the first anniversary of the program, the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, again dramatized the potential for this content. Many of the earliest pictures and eyewitness accounts were submitted by I-Report.
In January 2008 CNN acquired Ireport.com
for $750,000. A beta version of the site launched on Wednesday, February 13, 2008. The site, which had its complete launch in March 2008, allows users to submit media and have it instantly appear on the site. CNN Producers will then go through the online submission and select reports for possible airing on the CNN television networks, CNN.com
and other CNN platforms. The site also allows i-Reporters to contact each other. The site functions similar to YouTube and popular social networking sites.