CNN Joins User-Generated Content Fray

CNN.com’s today opened the gates to CNN Exchange, a new online
platform for user-generated content, including photos, video and text.

It’s a new online venture, utilizing a longtime CNN technique,
spokeswoman Jennifer Martin told internetnews.com.

“User-generated content, amateur video, citizen journalism, whatever
you want to call it, has been around for a while,” she said.

“User-generated
content played a really big role in being able to show first-hand
accounts after the Rodney King beating, Sept. 11, the London
bombings.”

Still, despite Martin’s claims of a long-time relationship with user-
generated content, platforms such as CNN Exchange are clearly a part
of relatively recent and popular trends on the Web.

From MySpace to YouTube, user-created content is
often called the driving force behind Web 2.0. Some argue that it’s
the only reason the Internet was ever relevant, citing the
interactivity of early and sustaining successes such as eBay.

But despite the surging popularity of user-generated content, online
publishers are having a hard time harness it for profit.

MySpace, for example, is thought to be wildly popular, but only
slightly profitable.

The reason is that brand managers, only lately growing comfortable
with advertising on the Internet at all, are still wary of putting
their products next to unbridled users.

Without big-money brand advertisers, those hosting user-generated
content are often forced to rely on low-paying banner ads that typically pay only cents per impression.

It’s a problem CNN Exchange gets around by not quite allowing users
to generate whatever content they want.

“We want to make sure this material is vetted,” Martin said.

“All of our reporting,
even from our own internal correspondents, goes through some very
strict vetting. We’re going to hold this user-generated content to
those same standards.”

That’s all code for editorial control. And while it’s good for
journalistic standards, it’s also good for paying the bills with blue
chip brand advertising.

“We already have eager advertisers to sponsor the Exchange,” Martin said.

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