by Dan Ward
More than a year ago, I wrote about the wonders of CNN’s iReport, the website run by the former “Worldwide Leader in News” that lets you report the news all by yourself, as I put it, “without all the worry over silly details like sourcing and verification.”
It seems CNN agrees that allowing millions of people to report news with absolutely zero journalistic training might not be the greatest of ideas, so it now has opened its own virtual school of journalism for iReporters.
The CNN iReport Boot Camp trains aspiring citizen journalists on important topics, such as “Pick your story,” “Find your sources” and “Headline writing, story building.” One boot camp story provides sage advice on locating credible sources and fact-checking, telling iReporters, for example, to “pick up the phone to give officials a fair chance to comment.”
The lesson for iReporters? Act more like CNN’s own trained journalists when developing and posting your stories.
Great idea, except for one minor detail. Unlike CNN’s own trained journalists, you still have no requirement as an iReporter to FOLLOW these guidelines. Consider them suggestions. You still can post your story without any fact-checking, without verifying sources, without any semblance of objectivity, if that’s how you choose to report. As CNN states, “The stories here are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post.”
CNN says that one of the goals of CNN iReport is to “expand the current definition of news.” If that definition no longer includes accuracy, fairness and objectivity, CNN, by all means consider this experiment a success.