It’s no Pambazuka News, but CNN’s four-year-old citizen journalism site iReport, does have a fairly high profile. Attached as it is to the pioneer in 24 hour cable news channels with a global reach, it shouldn’t surprise that it also has a global reach.
As of two days ago, iReports had been filed from every single country in the world except one: Nauru. Neither Nauruan nor visitor had ever sent in a story or photo or video from that South Pacific nation.
On a blog post, the iReport team pleads with the inhabitants of the island to help them complete their “Global Challenge.”
“Only Nauru is left! We want to hear from citizens of, or visitors to, this tiny island in the South Pacific, halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Send us a snapshot of life in Nauru — the local culture, food, architecture, natural sites, or an unusual event happening there.”
Today, Nauru came through. San Franciscan Lee Miller dropped some shots he had taken during a 2008 trip the country.
The value of leveraging readers as reporters is their distribution on-site all around the world. How many people would have known about Nauru without both the curiosity of Miller and the muscle of CNN?
“‘It’s a really sad story because it wasn’t that long ago that Nauruans were driving around in Ferraris. … It used to be one of the richest countries in the world,’ Miller said.
But there was a lot more about the country waiting to be seen. Miller recalled “breathtaking scenery” and touching moments with locals. The owner of the island’s only hotel noticed him wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt and insisted on paying for the rest of his stay. Another time, when he got sick, a Nauruan bus driver who worked at the hotel took him to a store and bought him medicine.”
Citizen journalism grew in tandem with the growth of blogging and other social media tools. There has been a lot of shaking-out in the past few years as it’s veered from a curiosity to the salvation of journalism to a point of fact. To be able to say, “Tell me what you see!” and get an answer is the real fruit of citizen journalism.
In counting the world’s countries, CNN has used the U.S. State Department’s list of independent countries. This list has 194 countries, of which iReports have been filed from 193.