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CNN.com Creates User Submissions Section

ANICK JESDANUN / AP | Aug 1 2006

With camera phones and other gadgets a greater part of everyday life, CNN wants to make it easier for viewers to submit images they happen to capture as they witness news in the making.

CNN and other news organizations have long accepted submissions from the public, but until now the tools at CNN's Web site have been made available in response to specific stories or events.

"It was much more ad hoc," CNN spokeswoman Jennifer Martin said Monday. "We haven't had a formal place for people to submit any type of user-generated content."

CNN is creating a permanent place, at CNN.com/exchange, where so-called citizen journalists can submit any photos, graphics, audio and video. It is also accepting submissions via e-mail.

Contributors will not be paid, however.

Visitors to the site can view other people's submissions, including ones that CNN does not use on television or elsewhere.

The initiative comes amid the growing popularity of video-sharing sites, particularly YouTube.com.

In recent days, Internet users have been posting on YouTube unfiltered images of how the fighting in Israel and Lebanon is affecting people caught in the middle. Examples include graphic images that are not usually seen in TV news reports - the mangled bodies of children, a person on fire in a road during an attack.

Martin said the CNN Exchange initiative was in the works long before the Mideast developments.

"The timing of everything is just so ripe with users being much more comfortable with gathering video and having the means," Martin said, noting that many cell phones and digital cameras these days can capture video.

One key difference, though, is that CNN's staff will vet every submission and post only those it deems authentic and appropriate.

"All the submissions on CNN Exchange will be reviewed and held up to the same editorial (standards) that all reporting is," Martin said.

MSNBC.com said it is also expanding its citizen-journalism efforts, but won't announce details until later this year.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post and other Web publishers are adopting technology that could lead visitors to articles from competing news organizations.

Inform Technologies LLC will aggregate news from various traditional news outlets and Web journals and help direct readers to related articles, no matter where they are located. The idea is to keep readers from defecting to search engines to find such information.

Other participants include The New York Sun and The Oklahoman newspapers.

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