CNN wins in Iran revolution for UGC

Chris Forrester

User Generated Content has created a powerful tool for broadcasters especially in tough reporting environments like Tehran. The BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN have each claimed spectacular viewer-input as far as blogs and video information is concerned.

CNN's results are not untypical, and are numerically amazing in what is proving to be a true revolution is the supply of footage from ‘affiliates'. For example, as this is written CNN has received more than 3866 of its ‘iReports' from viewers since the Iran election began. Indeed, it received 1600 on Saturday and Sunday just passed.

CNN says that 131 of these iReports have been vetted and verified by CNN producers for use on CNN air, or online. (CNN contacts the submitter and authenticates iReports before airing them....a distinct difference between iReport and other UGC sites, says CNN). The news broadcaster says it wants its iReporters to act sensibly, and is prepared to grant anonymity to contributors.

Most vetting is done via e-mail, according to Michael Toppo, senior director, production and operations for, talking to Broadcasting & Cable, a US trade mag. "It can be very time-consuming," says Toppo, "especially if you're trying to reach someone in Iran. But the purpose isn't to rush [video] to air. Obviously we would love to get things up in a quick manner. But it's very important to verify it and be right and make sure we can feel good about putting that On CNN stamp on it."