Innovating in the news
CNN is demonstrating a beta of something they call "I Report". Using this capability, all of us become stringers for CNN, local reporters creating content and news that CNN can decide to use, or can at least publish on the iReport site. What CNN has done is combine the power of blogs with the power of the individual and marry that to the content management of YouTube to create a framework for any of us to identify, capture and report news. Now, what seems like news to you may not seem like news to me, so CNN will eventually filter out what's "news" from what's not. But what they've done is to some extent extraordinary.
CNN is recognizing that news happens everywhere and that they can't possibly report all of the interesting news. Indeed, what happens on a regular basis is that much news of interest to many people is never reported - either CNN or other networks had no one there to cover the news, or it was spiked somewhere in the editing process. What we see on CNN's website or on the nightly news represents a tiny fraction of what happens that might be interesting on any one day. Now CNN is providing other outlets for that news. You, me, any of us can be reporters and capture the news and report it to iReport. The folks at CNN may then determine to use that report as the basis for a story - or they may not, but your news will still be posted and available for others to see and read.
Hmm. This sounds suspiciously like the innovation approach P&G used when it determined that its scientists couldn't possibly think up all of the best new products. Remember that P&G turned to an open innovation model, so many more individuals, companies and researchers could submit ideas to P&G. I guess what CNN is recognizing is that there's no special competitive advantage for capturing the news, other than being in the right place at the right time. Would any of us know Dan Rather if it hadn't been for the hurricane that brought him to prominence? Maybe. But CNN and P&G are demonstrating that they believe there is some value in the process - analyzing and determining which stories (in the CNN case) or which ideas and products (in the P&G case) to commercialize.
What's nice about the CNN site is that even if your story isn't "picked up" it is still visible and becomes part of the "news" on iReport. With enough interest, time and tools, this could become a site with as large a following as Youtube. I also notice that CNN is building in links to social networking sites, and has some functionalities that would enable iReport to build social networks as well. Somebody at CNN has been paying attention and is at a minimum copying innovative ideas from P&G and Facebook. While that may not seem like a big innovation generally, this is a huge innovation in the media and news world.