I fully believe in "Citizen Journalism" and all that it embraces. In fact I would go so far as to say that this participatory concept might have saved newspapers from dying off. If newspaper managements had embraced this concept early on and had taken a leadership role in developing its potential many newspapers probably would still be around.
But... the title of this post is "The CNN iReport Quandary" so...
It's great that people with talent and desire participate in providing free material for CNN (and many of the other national news and weather sites) but I wonder about "who profits." As a 16 year old budding news photographer my published photos garnered $3 each and usually a credit line. More than mere pocket change back then!
CNN almost certainly pays nobody for their hard work. Think about it for a minute...
Almost everywhere you go via Internet some commercial interest is tracking you and making full use of whatever personal information they can garner from your Internet wanderings. We allow them to take that information and sell stuff to us, presumably in return for all the great free things we can do using Internet.
But then we go the extra mile, perhaps taking many hours of hard work to prepare and upload an iReport and CNN gets the content for free. They might even profit from not having all of the local bureaus they once operated.
I assume that having your work displayed on CNN's iReport pages is a thrill for many people that more than compensates them for their creative and expressive work. But then again...
If we provide personal information about our buying habits in return for free services shouldn't we get something in return for highly crafted free content?
It is possible that some iReport contributors (an extremely small percentage) either get paid for their work or maybe even hired as a stringer (newspaper term for freelancer). As I mentioned above, there are many ways iReport content could help make CNN corporate more profitable for their shareholders.
Is it fair not having CNN compensate people more widely?
I've got the comments section open and I hope a few of you respond with your thoughts. It really will help me to make up my mind about whether to participate in iReports. Thanks!