Viewer video part of ABC digital plan


NEW YORK -- After experiments during big and breaking-news stories over the past two years, the digital channel ABC News Now has stepped up its efforts in citizen journalism.

ABC News Now announced a partnership Wednesday with Channel One to solicit videos on topics of the day from the channel's teenage audience for possible inclusion on its now-daily "Be Seen and Be Heard" program. Channel One-produced segments also will appear on ABC News Now.

ABC News Now has been soliciting viewer opinion in various ways since the 2004 presidential debates, using push-polls and other initiatives to help gauge opinion. Channel One is the latest of a number of partners that include AOL, MTV U and Yahoo!

"We did this in fits and starts with the first couple of years of News Now, but we started to do it full time in late summer," said Michael Clemente, executive producer of ABC News Digital Media.

"Be Heard" has gone from weekly to daily on the digital network. The citizen journalism initiative also has supplied viewer e-mails and questions not only to ABC News Now programs but also to the broadcast network's interviews with Lynne Cheney, Mel Gibson, Terry Irwin and President Bush.

"We have the newsmakers and we have the platform, and what we want to do is let people share in that and participate and make it a conversation and not a pontification from on high," Clemente said.

Coming up is what Clemente calls a "digital town meeting" at ABC News Now, which from noon ET Nov. 7 to noon ET Nov. 8 will cover the midterm elections and solicit opinions and comments from viewers.