Fox, CNN Employ Minneapolis Citizen Journalists


Fox and CNN both relied on citizen journalist reports--Fox calls them uReports, CNN I-Reports--to help tell the story of the Minneapolis bridge collapse Wednesday.

CNN said it approved 96 such reports, including three videos, from the accident scene. Fox reported a "significant increase in uReports," and used several photos on air.

For CNN, the I-Reports came exactly one year after its Aug. 1, 2006, launch of the citizen journalist initiative.

Both Fox and CNN are tapping into user-generated accounts and pictures to help get some early boots on the ground and information on the air. CNN says it has received more than 45,000 such reports in its first year.

In both it is a case of  "you report, we decide," with the networks vetting the content before putting it on the air.

CNN's coverage was frequently thrown to a voice over the cell phone, including resident Mark LaCroix, who said he saw the last moments of the collapse.

Fox says its Web site got over 16.8 million page views for its Minneapolis coverage at last count.

In the battle to get on the air first, Fox said the channel was on with the story at 7:31 p.m., with footage from affiliate KMSP there. CNN said it was on by 7:35, with its first I-Report, from LaCroix, at 7:45 p.m.

Fox says Bill Hemmer co-hosted America's Newsroom from the scene. Shepard Smith will be anchoring The Fox Report and Studio B from Minneapolis, as will Greta Van Susteren for On the Record live at 10 p.m.

CNN's John Roberts anchored American Morning from Minneapolis; Anderson Cooper will anchor 360º there as well. CNN will also air an investigative report Friday at 8 p.m. on infrastructure safety.