Farooq A. Kperogi casts a critical glance at the “citizen journalism takes on the mainstream media” narrative, through the case study of CNN’s iReport. He describes the undertaking as an example of hegemonic cooptation of citizen journalism, in which voluntary cultural labour is being exploited, and in which there’s very little (or, with Zizek: “just enough”) space for questioning said hegemonic practices of CNN. In the project of corporate sponsored citizen media – so far as such a thing is even possible -, parties are far from being equal. (Hardly a revolutionary thought, but it’s nice to see some empirical data backing it up in any case.)
On the other hand, I think that Kperogi himself overlooked an aspect of the mainstream media – citizen media relationship. He emphasizes how CNN doesn’t reward its citizen journalists (financially or otherwise) – which is of course a point to consider. But I’d imagine that the motivation for a lot of citizen journalists in a lot of cases is getting the coverage itself – coverage that otherwise would be even (much) harder to obtain. As Kperogi himself writes, user-generated pieces of reporting sometimes in fact end up being used in the traditional broadcasts of CNN. On the one hand, you could look at such cases as not being paid for your journalistic work; on the other hand, you could also look at with the perspective of how much you’d have to pay (or what kind of thing you’d have to do) to actually get covered on CNN.
Kperogi, Farooq A. (2010): “Cooperation with the corporation? CNN and the hegemonic cooptation of citizen journalism through iReport.com” in: New Media & Society 13(2), 314-329.