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Reuters and Yahoo! Enlist Camera Phones 94

eldavojohn writes "In a huge advancement of citizen journalism, Reuters and Yahoo! are asking average people to be journalists with their cell phones. I hope participants don't run the risks others have for photographing the police. You can expect to see these new photos being used at Yahoo! and starting tomorrow." From the article: "'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."
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Reuters and Yahoo! Enlist Camera Phones

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  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:07PM (#17106156) Homepage Journal
    The BBC have been requesting user captured media [] since (I think) the July 7th bombings in London.

    If you capture an unfolding event on camera or mobile phone, either as a photograph or video, then please send it to BBC News.

    You can send pictures or video to or via mms by dialling +44 (0)7725 100100.

    Please do not endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

    That disclaimer is very important, the BBC does not want CNN reporters sending tapes from 2000 foot skydiving through a twister.
    They also have a policy in place to pay people for certain images.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yakman ( 22964 )
      The Sydney Morning Herald [] here in Australia has a similar thing at the bottom of every news story:

      When news happens: send photos, videos & tip-offs to 0424 SMS SMH (+61 424 767 764), or email us.

      Photos from a mobile phone these days with their 2MP or more cameras are probably reasonable enough for the sort of photos online news sites use with stories.
    • Yep, another good idea finally makes it across the pond... :)
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:08PM (#17106164) Homepage
    In a huge advancement of citizen journalism, Reuters and Yahoo! are asking average people to be journalists

    I see they're taking FOX News' lead then. FOX has been asking average people to be journalists for years.
    • As I recall, "journalist" was the one job that ranked lower then "politican" in most polls in terms of respect. After an entire adult lifetime of reading their output, I can see why this is so. Common people reporting the news would probably raise the general character of the... "profession".
      • As I recall, "journalist" was the one job that ranked lower then "politican" in most polls in terms of respect.
        Unless you're referring to Jon Stewart.
      • I don't think so. What "news" will common people report? If it's the same common people that decide which TV program is successfull, by switching to a different channel if the current program requires at least some brain cells to follow, than the outcome and the quality of such news is nothing I'm looking forward to.

        Besides that, there's another issue here: Turning away responsibility from the journalist/magazine/TV station to the common people. A german boulevard newspaper ("BILD") already publishes pic

        • by jotok ( 728554 )
          What "news" will common people report?

          I found phone-photos from the Lebanese equivalant of "Joe Sixpack" (let alone aid workers, etc.) during the last Israeli conflict to be quite interesting.
        • Time for a short tale:
          Many many years back in a small town in New Mexico, a third party presidential candidate was showing up as part of a whistle stop campaign. If I mentioned Which candidate it would date me :)
          I was a young lad at the time and, though my father despised this candidate he, I, and most of the rest of the town went down to the train depot to see and hear. No other candidate was going to visit our hick town and other then watching the grass grow it was the only entertainment that day. T
    • Re:not the first (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shuh ( 13578 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:39PM (#17106650) Journal
      Well, let's see how well CBS/ABC/NBC/CNN et al are doing: 1) Bush National Guard documents -- fake, 2) Downing Street Memos -- fake, 3) Jason Blair (NYT) articles -- fake. If Fox had been responsibile for any of these great examples of "journalism," they would have already been howled out of business. But of course, that's the beauty of a double-standard. Crucify your opponents over minutia while you skate on the real whoppers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gulthek ( 12570 )
        Why must I be for CBS/ABC/etc. if I'm against Fox News? Every news channel is my "opponent" in this regard.
        • by Shuh ( 13578 )
          Why must I be for CBS/ABC/etc. if I'm against Fox News? Every news channel is my "opponent" in this regard.
          When most of the major malfeasance in journalism can be found outside of Fox News, it just seems kind of strange that someone would focus on Fox News. It makes one wonder what kind of formula you use to prioritize your "opponents."

        • by jafuser ( 112236 )
          Because the prevailing attitude in America today is distilled to "If you're not with us, you're against us."

          Absolute polarization is widespread these days in America: If you are at all critical of A, you are automatically labeled as a B-supporter, so they will automatically respond by attacking B.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's funny how the right never mentions this fake []. I'm pretty sure For reported it as fact. Your president did even after being told it was false.
      • 2) Downing Street Memos -- fake

        Umm, no [].

        • by Shuh ( 13578 )
          Umm, no.
          You really should read your own link. Inadmissable in a court of law? Only "verified" by unnamed sources? Source document unavailable for formal verification? People who haven't seen "the original" unwilling to confirm or deny authenticity? By any journalistic standard, the memo is about as true as anything a "journalist" can type on imagination alone. Thanks for making my point for me.

    • In a huge advancement of citizen journalism, Reuters and Yahoo! are asking average people to be journalists

      I see they're taking FOX News' lead then. FOX has been asking average people to be journalists for years.

      ROTFL. Fox is, at best, in a distant second place - as CNN was asking average people to send in photographs/video a decade before Fox even existed.
    • Not true. A casual glance will show you that FOX News uses only below average people as journalists ;)
    • Wow, dudes and dudettes, it's just like "You are now on the Frequency (Global Frequency, that is). How very cool - organizations which offshore jobs want your free labor - how very, very WTO. Cheers!
  • The BBC (Score:1, Redundant)

    by taskforce ( 866056 )
    The BBC has been doing this for ages in the "Your Photos" section of their site, which gets reused inside stories. I remember them doing it as far back as the London 7/7 bombings, because they had all the photos from the inside of the carriages.
  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:10PM (#17106202)
    This is a great way to get accurate and detailed photos of news events, especially those that take place quickly or happen in remote areas. Even with field offices all over the world, organizations like Reuters can't possibly have a photographer everywhere. When a newsworthy event takes place, chances are that someone with some capability to take a photo will be in the vicinity. I think the potential cash bounty for quality photos will encourage "citizen journalists" to participate.

    Tornado sightings have worked this way forever. Bubba catches the twister on his video-recordin' machine, the local NBC affiliate pays him 100 bucks for the tape, and soon the whole country gets to see video of a funnel cloud snapping power lines a hundred yards away. CNN has recently been pushing a "Send, Share, See YOUR Stories on CNN" initiative, and now Yahoo and Reuters are jumping on the bandwagon. It's about time that the concept is catching on more broadly... I just hope it gets used for something more relevant than Britney flashing her hoo-ha.
  • Most comedy clubs have a policy of not allowing anyone to record the comedian's acts.
  • Imagine being the poor sap that has to weed through all the crappy kitten photos and car accident photos that are going to be flooding in. There are sure to be some pictures of a huge dump some jackass deposited in a toilet and thinks it is newsworthy. The list of useless pictures that people will send in will probably overwhelm the few gems. I bet it won't last long.
  • Fake Photos (Score:5, Funny)

    by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:15PM (#17106296)
    I was getting ready to write a post on the dangers of fake pics and that I hoped there were safeguards in place to prevent this... but hey, I suddenly remembered that mainstream journalists have been doing this for awhile now, so no worries. Falsify away.
    • Seiously, how many "Britney spotted naked" pictures will there be? Although, if they're supposed to look like they're from cell phone cameras, they're going to have to be run through the crappifying filter! Perhaps slightly more seriously, how many fake pictures will there be of politicians in "compromising" situations?

      And a related worry: Did these Reuters people just give up on doing their own journalism? Do they do anything except copy AP stories?

    • ... I suddenly remembered that mainstream journalists have been doing this for awhile now, so no worries. Falsify away.

      Why not? It will make it easier to get pictures to go with their fake news [].
  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:15PM (#17106298) Homepage
    My readon this: For the most part, people won't be paid for their effort, and when they are, Reuters will decide if, when, and how much.

    So if the for-profit company that takes money from your effort is not paying people, why would ANYONE send them juicy information, the best and most timely photos? (Other than corporate spin and marketing...) These suits do not understand human motivation at all. While many community/corporate models do work well - they work when the people who contribute significantly get something significant back for their participation in the community.

    Stop letting your creativity be yoked by the merchants.

    The only possible reason for people to upload is an individul's desire for the story/photo to get out - which puts even more bias on the distorted, biased coporate news process. Now everyone is "fighting" for what news is real - in an arena where people will always lose to the larger corporate profit motive.

    Why wouldn't you send it to groups like Indymedia [] or other groups, collectives and nonprofits that have ideals more in line with the interests of individuals? Why wouldn't you post it to your own flickr account, craigslist, or make a blog post about it yourself? All these tools are available to anyone who can get the API working to upload it to Reuters, and work more in the individual's interest.

    We no longer need merchants to control creative expression.

    CNN launched a 'thing' like this too a while back (iReport, video [])and it was laughed off the airwaves. They wanted you to "be the reporter!" and not pay you for your effort - while the whole time they make money off the ads your reports support. If people have a great story - post the video online with a site that allows you to share revenue from traffic, and includes real rewards for creating the content to those people who really create it.

    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:43PM (#17106728) Homepage Journal
      I dunno, but people contribute to Wikipedia and various open-source projects all the time, for which they don't get paid. Sometimes people (like RedHat) even make money re-selling your work. Heck, right here at Slashdot, the guys selling ads are profiting from your opinion expressed above.

      It's a sense of community, I think. People put forth relatively small amounts of effort and get back rich content from the sum. The whole may be no more than the sum of the parts, but the sum is a lot more valuable to you than your part.
      • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:00PM (#17107754) Homepage
        Last I checked Wikipedia was not a for-profit company. These guys are just trying to milk the mainstream for free labor and they know it. People who can break quality stories are often people who know the value of those stories. If I called Reuters or Yahoo to give them an exclusive story for something new and hot and they asked me to submit it for free with this new service I'd laugh at them and tell them I'll see what amount their competitors will offer me and how it probably won't have to be much to beat their offer of nothing.

        • by Nikker ( 749551 )
          Advertise a telephone# for MMS or an email address. Once they establish the market (mass end user transfers) supply and demand will balance very quickly, it will be as easy as the first sentence.
        • I think it's pretty simple; claim that you will pay everyone, and expect to get flooded with content, usable or not. Something they already know they're not equipped to handle.

          It's like how an art gallery will pay you your cut if they sell your canvas, but they don't pay you for merely displaying your art on their walls.

          From the way it's formatted, it offers to open the door to enthusiasts, with plausible compensation if the content warrants it. Reuters' money train is exactly based on content subscriptio
      • I will go to great lengths to help out my friends or community.
        I will go to great lengths to make a quick buck for myself.
        I will do nothing to help a corporation use my effort to make a quick buck for themselves, while i get nothing.
    • by Esteanil ( 710082 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:05PM (#17107828) Homepage Journal
      A lot of people will be doing this. Why?
      Bragging rights.

      "My photo was on [big news agency] - Just look here!"
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mgscheue ( 21096 )
        Yeah, that'll be helpful when it comes time to pay the mortgage. No money but hey, look at this, Reuters and Yahoo used my picture and didn't pay me. Whoopee!

    • by Otterley ( 29945 )
      Just remember, Stephen Colbert [] said it first.
    • This is a trend which I personally find revolting, but apparently the rest of the world is quite content to trade their valuable intellectual property for 3 seconds of fame. I think it's the reality show syndrome gone to absurd extremes. I've seen numerous companies asking for people to submit their art, their songs, their recipes, their inventions, and they might be the lucky submitter who sees their creation used in a national media blitz. What do the contestants receive? The possibility of seeing their c
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:20PM (#17106378) Homepage Journal
    I seem to remember a certain 1991 event [] which set off riots and a fairly major cultural shift, which would never have gotten out had there not been some bystander with a portable video camera handy. Since then tons of amateur videographers whipped out their camcorders whenever something newsworthy happened. Now we all have camera phones, so this is all just the natural evolution of that.
  • ... for a lot of "adorable kitten" stories.

    Although this sounds like a neat idea in the beginning, just wait until it gets abused by the masses. Bye bye Yahoo! and Reuters.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot ( 848674 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:20PM (#17106384)
    Citizen Journalism is a Good Thing, but given Reuter's recent and well-publicized problems with staged photos and fraud with their own stringers [] (not to mention the recent allegations against AP over "fake" atrocities reported by dubious or non-existent sources) [], what controls is Reuters going to put in place to ensure they aren't taken in again? How can we know that a picture of, say, Barak Obama flipping someone the bird, or Israeli soliders shooting a civilian, wasn't faked by a partisan with an axe to grind?

    Given the numerous problems Reuters has had with its own Middle East reporting, what controls are they going to put in place to ensure that these Citizen Journalists aren't feeding them fake pictures?

    Crow T. Trollbot

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I can only pass comment on what the BBC have been doing since they started asking for pictures a year or so ago. The basic premiss there is send things in when we don't have much coverage. For example, there was a major fire/explosion at a fireworks factory in england last night. The BBC would have a camera crew there etcetera, but they would only have one angle (in all sense of the word) on the subject, and so they were inviting folks to send in what they had shot of the event (as well as comments from
    • Yes, this could be a major advance in journalism so long as Reuters executes well. Verification is essential (which is not tremendously difficult so long as it's made a priority) and consistently paying and paying well for items sent in will determine the likelihood that people bother.

      I've occasionally had friends send photos to me, or the other way around, of things that capture an event far better than the news did the next day. There will be times when this is the case of civil rights abuses that we can
    • Indeed. I was glad the article at least briefly mentioned this dilemma, but I fear it's more dangerous and more difficult to solve than they would like to admit. Basically what we have here is a shift that parallels the move from traditional television to reality television, with similar motivations: cheaper than paying professional talent, no unions to deal with, and the viewer finds it more... "visceral", or something. But there's another, less concrete thought that might be behind this. Consider that whe

    • Given the numerous problems Reuters has had with its own Middle East reporting, what controls are they going to put in place to ensure that these Citizen Journalists aren't feeding them fake pictures?

      Pretty simple, I suspect. They'll use the model that US radio stations have used since the dawn of the Top 40 list.

      1. Station compiles list of songs that they will play
      2. Station tells fans to call in their requests
      3. Station ignores all requests for songs not on the list
      4. Station puts requests for listed son
  • There are two local Kansas City TV news stations that support consumer generated input and it is also featured on CNN. I'm sure there are other examples from other areas around the US and the world. This is not exactly ground breaking technology.
  • '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

    Who are these people? And could we possibly get them all to congregate at a remote nuclear testing area?

    Seriously, I'm sick and tired of "having" to see "news" about celebrities who are pregnant, dizzy, out shopping, picking up the newspaper from their front lawn, etc., etc., etc.

    Sure, I could choose not to turn on the TV, choose not to read the newspapers

    • You and me both. I'm heartily sick of the cult of celebrity, especially when applied to total non-entities who are famous for being famous.
  • by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:04PM (#17107076)
    Lloyd Braun? Michael Richards? What is this, an episode of Seinfeld? Serenity now, insanity later.
  • You can't have an article mentioning Michael Richards and Lloyd Braun without some mention of procuring gum from Chinatown, can you?
  • Honest question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:41PM (#17107552) Homepage
    Honest question: why is this good, but traffic cams and telescreens bad?

    Where is the line between "good for justice/democracy/etc" and "invasion of privacy?"
    • They way groupthink inc. has it:
      Government abusing regular people - evil, mostly because they can cover each other's backs quite well no matter who's at fault.
      Regular people abusing regular people - equality.

      Either way, you're still getting invaded. If you react, the only difference is that of a winnable case of simple assault and a no-win case of assault on a police officer.
  • The BBC Do This (Score:2, Interesting)

    The BBC have been requesting pictures and video from members of the public for some time now. They have a couple of dedicated numbers set up, and also encourage people to email things through the website. I suppose they stand more chance of getting that killer photo with thousands of members of the public looking for it too.

    The first time I saw this used was probably the 7/7 attacks in London - many of the first pictures came from mobile phones, and were much more effective at capturing the atmosphere aro
  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:27PM (#17108052) Homepage
    In a lot of Western countries it is assumed that there can be found a jury of people that haven't yet formed an opinion on some matter. Whether it is civil or criminal doesn't really matter, the issue is that whatever it is, they haven't heard about it.

    What publishing cell phone camera photos and movies does is virtually eliminate the possiblity of finding anyone that hasn't been exposed to every possible detail, no matter what.

    Another aspect of this is when an "eyewitness" account differs from the rather narrow view of the event presented by a camera. Which would be more likely to be believed? I suspect most people under 30 would unquestingly accept the camera view and people over 30 far more likely to give them equal weight if not be more likely to favor the human. Yes, human memory isn't perfect but neither is the interpretation presented by the cameraman.

    And, it is very difficult to tell the difference in the "Internet Age" between something faked and the real thing in a photo when the time between it is taken and when it is old news is like 10 minutes. You either publish it immediately or it has zero value - because everyone else already put it on their web pages. The wire services, AP & Reuters, are having some pretty serious issues with this now, and it is likely just the beginning.

  • by PHAEDRU5 ( 213667 ) <> on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:36PM (#17108162) Homepage
    So, on an internet where nobody knows you're a dog, "reputable" organizations will start posting non-traceable input as news??!?!?!!?!!!

    Here, take a look at Green Helmet Guy [], the face of anti-semitic news from the Lebanon.

    This is a chance for the S/N ratio on the internet to head to, what, minus infinity?
    • the face of anti-semitic news from the Lebanon.

      Indeed, that is text-book propaganda. However, so is calling it "anti-semitic". If anything, it's "anti-Israeli", which is a completely different thing altogether. I'd imagine the irony of labeling Hezbolla propaganda as "anti-semitic" is completely lost on most people.

      • by Detritus ( 11846 )
        When I hear a mob chanting "Death to the Jews" in Arabic, something tells me that they aren't interested in who issued my passport.
  • I could see this as being a real cause for concern for privacy for celebrities. Celebrities are regular everyday people. I'd sure as hell get annoyed if a flock of morons was following me around with a cellphone or camera all day long. If some pro photographer isn't able to follow them around all day, why the hell should the public have the right to follow them around and take pics? Doesn't this fall in under some peeping-Tom or stalking laws? I think some of the pros are borderline on this already.

    Also, pe
    • by growse ( 928427 )
      Well, serious news agencies like AP and Reuters don't tend to report on the same stories that the tabloids would report on. "Britney flashes muff shocker" doesn't register as "news" for many agencies, so any submissions from the public along those sorts of lines would be rightly ignored as crap, which is what they are.
    • I could see this as being a real cause for concern for privacy for celebrities. Celebrities are regular everyday people.

      Depends on the celebrity. If you are talking about a media-whore (as many of them are) who milk the media for their own benefits, then I really aren't going to lose some sleep over them being hounded over the media-buzz they contrived to create. On the other hand, celebrities that keep to themselves and don't play the game deserve their privacy. This is mostly self-regulating due to the

  • low quality photos are extra easy to edit (as well as editing high res photos then making them look low quality to cover the unrealness) and always sell the best. Maybe they won't buy Oprah edited into a KKK march but anyone could seriously edit any photos taken from a cell phone. They better do video only or something, not that that's much harder to edit with CG and stuff. Stay tuned to Yahoo news for a video of racist, swastika T-shirt wearing Godzilla attacking Israel!
  • If by that, you mean "copying something many other organizations are already doing", then yes. [] []

  • Why would anyone give away their IP to a for profit corporation so they can make thousands of dollars off the video and get nothing in return? The Michael Richards video has brought in millions of dollars to media corporations and the fool that gave it away has nothing.
  • With the eradication of the Fairness Doctrine [], it has been a slow decline in the integrity of journalism. The idea that wire services are now asking people to provide content for them is testimony to the pathetic state of affairs in journalism.

    I look forward to this going full circle, and wire services and news networks becoming completely obsolete in favor of citizens reporting the news to other citizens, devoid of heavy-handed corporate or political bias.
  • You may recall in David Brin's book Earth, set in 2038 or so, the middle-aged and "old fogies" (i.e. us today in 30 years) have an unhealthy, obsessive, paranoid preoccupation with documentary surveillance (using the equivalent of cell phone cameras, but mounted in UV-protective glasses, I believe). The younger generation of the 2030s find it amusing and annoying. Seems like we are taking yet another path to living up to Brin's prescient vision of the future (sans voracious Black Hole and semi-sentient pl
  • Statistically generated photojournalism can be intriguing on a large scale. Who would have imagined, even 15 years ago, having a spontaneous tragedy, like the first plane hitting the North Tower, filmed by chance? An average joe capturing something random like the Kennedy Assassination or even Rodney King beating, back in the 60s and even 90s, was mind-blowing. Although the technology was different, between 1960 and 1991, the probability someone happened to have a camera in hand to record an event was pr

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