As much of the mainstream media is seeing its access limited to Iran during its ongoing post-election fallout, CNN.com’s iReport is seeing a major boost in submissions from citizen journalists in the region—which have accounted for more than half of the total number of submissions received over the past week.
From June 13, when incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi in a highly controversial election, to June 17, iReport.com has received nearly 1,600 citizen-produced reports from Iran—mostly photos along with some video content. Meanwhile, from June 13 through June 16, iReport.com received 2,911 total submissions overall.
The number of iReports that CNN.com has has increased every day since the election, as protests erupted across the country and much of the media world was blocked from reporting on the surging unrest. On June 13 the site received 73 reports; on June 17, 481 were submitted. Plus, the site has also added over 3,000 new members over that period (from June 6 through June 10 the site added just 1,135 members).
According to Mike Toppo, senior director of news operations and production, CNN.com, while it is difficult to compare this level of iReport response to other events, the restrictions placed on the media have created something of an ideal scenario for citizen journalists to contribute to CNN. “It’s incredibly difficult and challenging for our reporters to get anything on this story,” he said. “This is sort of a world galvanizing event that demonstrates exactly what we wanted to do with iReport.”
Given the controversial nature of the news story, CNN officials have only been able to approve 56 reports for use on air and online (many of the filings offer commentary of a personal nature). For example, CNN.com currently features a gallery of photos of protesters submitted by users
“This is not like a tornado or something that you can easily vet,”Toppo said. “This story has really taken to the streets. There is a such a volume of material and the material is so sensitive that we want to make sure we get it right.”