CBS Tries Mobile Citizen Journalism -- Let's Hope There's More To It

The latest media company to try its hand at citizen journalism: CBS, which has (test?) launched, a news-y site to be created by everyday people.

Mobile phone users can send photos and video to the site via email or a multimedia message. And photos/videos are categorized into sections like “Breaking news where I am,” “My politics,” “Whether where I am,” and “I cover sports and outdoors.”

This is a fine idea, but unless we’re missing something, CBS has done a lousy job creating the site. When you direct your mobile Web browser at, the first thing you see is a massive ad covering almost one fourth of the screen. (See illustrations at right, generated by an emulator.)

Below the fold, some unintelligible thumbnails link to stories like “WORLD’S BIGGEST SUNFLOWER” and “5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq.” None of the pictures are big enough to convey anything meaningful, even when you click through to their pages.

There’s a video of a “security lockdown” at Seattle’s airport, ostensibly uploaded by a real person, who is narrating the video. But when downloaded to our (not that old) Palm (PALM) Treo, the video is too small to watch anything. We couldn’t get the video to work at all on an Apple (AAPL) iPhone.

What we hope: That this is something CBS was testing internally and never hoped to leak out to Moconews or other wireless trade publications. But if this is an almost-ready-to-go product, we’re disappointed. The way the content is currently presented, it’s not helpful or interesting, even if normal users haven’t started filling in the “news” yet.

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