The latest development in the world of “citizen journalism”: News services are inviting photographs and video from anyone, anywhere.
As explained in the New York Times (“Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to work for Their News Service,” 12/4/06):
The Yahoo-Reuters project will create a systematic way to incorporate images covering a wider range of topics into news coverage.
Starting [December 5], users will be able to upload photos and videos to a section of Yahoo called You Witness News (news.yahoo.com/page/youwitnessnews). All of the submissions will appear on Flickr or a similar site for video. Editors at both Reuters and Yahoo will review the submissions and select some to place on pages with relevant news articles, just as professional photographs and video clips are woven into their news sites today.
“People don’t say, ‘I want to see user-generated content’,” said Lloyd Braun, who runs Yahoo’s media group. “They want to see Michael Richards in the club. If that happens to be from a cellphone, they are happy with a cellphone. If it’s from a professional photographer, they are happy for that, too.”
Users will not be paid for images displayed on the Yahoo and Reuters sites. But people whose photos or videos are selected for distribution to Reuters clients will receive a payment. Mr. Ahearn said the company had not yet figured out how to structure those payments. The basic payment may be relatively small, but he said Reuters was likely to pay more to people offering exclusive rights to images of major events. For now, no money is changing hands between Yahoo and Reuters, but if Reuters is able to create a separate news service with the user-created material, it will split the revenue with Yahoo.
The main page of You Witness News effectively offers a mini-course in how to become a photojournalist or videographer: tips for shooting video from Yahoo reporter Kevin Sites and the BBC; links to resources like the Center for Citizen Media and the Institute for Interactive Journalism; guidelines for reporters, “including sourcing, disclosure of potential conflicts, and preparing for interviews.”