Fox News Redesigns uReport, Adds New Enhancements

By Alex Weprin Comment

The new uReport assignment page

Fox News has just launched a significant redesign of its user-generated content website uReport.

The new iteration of the site will request specific content around news stories, and features an interactive map so that users know what is happening near them. FNC will also use social media–such as Twitter and Facebook–to post assignments for users, and will eventually utilize mobile location services to target users that are near news events.

“A misnomer about these things is that you put it up because you are looking for the next great breaking news thing,” Jeff Misenti, VP and GM of digital for Fox News tells TVNewser. “You know what, if you get that shot from an event, that’s great, but I know that is going to be such a small percentage of the time.”

What I don’t want it to be is like some other  citizen journalism sites, where it is almost like everybody is creating their own infomercial, it is almost like ‘I make teddy bears at home, here is my picture…’ that is not what I am looking for. I want everything to be an extension to content or programming,” Misenti added.

In that respect, uReport is seeking the user’s perspective on the news, rather than using their content as the news itself. Producers on FNC programs will be able to request specific content around segments that are in the pipeline:

“It is almost a companion aspect for programming, so the morning show could say, we are looking for things about, maybe its weather one day or the holiday season,” Misenti says. “So Super Tuesday is happening, let’s say that one of the candidates is having an event at a school in a particular town on Ohio, we can eventually get to the point where if you have location services signed on, we will broadcast out the assignment to devices, saying ‘are you there?’”

The redesigned uReport is similar to the redesigned CNN iReport, though in many ways the two are quite different. CNN hosts iReports on its own sub-site, even those not vetted by the channel. FNC keeps its iReport submissions hidden from view until they have been vetted.

“All of this stuff is viewed by human eyes,” Misenti says.

Farther down the line, uReport will add “profile pages,” allowing users to follow some of the more prolific uReporters. FNC may also add more text-based submissions, be it short bursts of information or longer items. For now, though, the focus is on photos and video.

Misenti also took aim at iReport in another respect. Last year CNN laid off a number of photojournalists, citing iReport as one of the reasons behind the decision.

“We have seen other organizations talk about how they use their citizen journalism initiatives to actually replace or drive costs down or that stuff,” Misenti says. “I don’t see this in the same method. We are always going to report the news, but we want to say to users ‘hey, if you are in the area or are near this, we would love to see your perspective, we would love to get your pictures or videos.’”

uReport first launched in early 2007, following the surprising success of CNN’s iReport, which launched in Summer, 2006.