Should news sites with limited resources depend on user-generated content?

CNN's recent announcement that it had laid off 50 employees came just before the cable network announced that it had redesigned its iReport site, which features citizen journalists' content.

Earlier this week, Stephen Colbert poked fun at the connection between the layoffs and iReport, saying: “Why buy the cow when you can have it shakily videotape its own milk for free?”

This was a joke, of course, but it speaks to some important questions: How are news sites striking a balance, if at all, between user-generated content and staffers' content? Should they even try to strike a balance? Does it make sense for some news sites to rely more on user-generated content when faced with limited resources?

Reuters' Jack Shafer and Eugenia Chien, who helps run the user-generated site Muni Diaries, addressed these questions in a live chat, which you can replay here:

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website,, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.


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