The Social News Network: The Appropriation of Community Labour in CNN’s iReport

Michael Daubs

Abstract


In November 2011, Jack Womack, a senior vice president at the US-based cable news station CNN, announced that the network would lay off approximately fifty workers, in part because “new technology in desk-top editing and user-generated content and social media have made some editing and photojournalism positions redundant.” Within days of this announcement, CNN re-launched their citizen journalism website iReport.com. The site had been in operation for five years, collecting user-generated content in exchange for the promise to “take part in the news with CNN.” However, many people simply want to share with a small circle of friends or family. Newly-incorporated social networking elements thus emphasize participation within a community, disguising the generation of labour as socialization and play. By associating iReport with this community-driven ethos, CNN is able to guarantee the production of specialized content and capitalize on the immaterial labour of online iReport communities.  


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