We talked to Lila King after the panel discussion Integrating User-Generated Content at 2007 ONA conference.
Q: How did the I-Report come about?
A: The I-Report first came about after the Asian Tsunami. It was then that viewers sent in a large amount of both video footage and pictures. It was in August 2006 that I-Report was fully launched as CNN's citizen journalism initiative. Today I-Report is based on user participation and a chance for anyone to tell their story from a first-person perspective.
Q: How do you entice people to send in pictures/videos?
A: By engaging them in storytelling. During the panel, the phrase chicken and egg was used to better understand this. When something is written by a journalist or an engaging picture is posted, people are motivated to send in what they have. This method generates comments and posts as well.
Q: Are journalists encouraged to comment on other people's comments?
A: They do comment in many situations. When there is a story that reaches out to a certain community, those people might want to know what more they can do to help. In that case there are examples of an author posting in the comments about useful links.
Q: A person in the audience of the panel asked: how are the pictures, videos and comments moderated?
A: Everything on the site is pre-moderated. When is comes to the [CNN] Political Ticker, there are an army of interns that moderate comments. When it comes to other stories there is usually one person who is moderating. The word "vet" is used for editing comments and posts. It also refers to Reporting 101. If I-Report receives a picture which may seem false they go into a fact-checking mode. They will call the section of CNN that deals with whatever the picture involves. Once the event has been verified, the next step is to get in touch with the person who submitted the photo by phone. A long conversation can usually reveal whether or not the picture has been through Photoshop. Having a long conversation with someone can usually help tell if something is false.
Q: Can a comment be anonymous?
A: When you want to post on the website you have to register. When registering for the Web site you will be asked for a name and an email address. Whether someone uses their real name or email is unknown to us. We find that there is really no significant difference between comments that are posted by an anonymous person or a real person.