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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trend: Citizen Journalism: People Paparazzi

More harvesting of the power of us all...

The Sunday Times Scotland (,,2090-2012393,00.html) has an interview of Kyle MacRae, the founder of Scoopt (, the first agency to broker cameraphone pictures for amateur paparazzi and citizen reporters. Six months since it's launch, Scoopt has 5,500 members in 86 countries.

AKI COMMENT: I understand from other blog links that not too many photos have been actually sold by Scoopt into mainstream press. Which implies that the "official news" brokers ain't going down without a fight (sleeping on the obvious great opportunity in front of them is clearly on the newsdesk docket)! And they likely have no intention to buy from the man on the street unless they absolutely have to - or when they get blindsided and forced to wake up and make a policy for this kind of reporting.

But assume they'll catch on once they realise the potential cost savings of a nationwide freelance network that wouldn't need to get paid until they actually scored a hot scoop. And assume they'll all catch on as blogs continue to showcase the photo scoops and get mass eyeballs without the assistance of the so-called "official news". And then watch the "official news" slowly atrophy to irrelevance and become branded simply as a broadcast outlet for the government and corporate p/r machines...or did that part already happen? I mean, honestly, which would u rather see? - A)The live blog reports and photos from actual participants in a natural disaster? or B)The "official news" caster broadcasting from a nearby hotel balcony "reporting" on the painfully obvious? It would seem that the imperitive of "official news" brands needs to be fast-tracking a solution to aggregate Citizen Journalism into one branded destination. Because the first news brand (mainstream or otherwise) to emerge as owner and "go to" source to sell/present your breaking stories/footage will soon become the only "go to" brand in the consumer's mind for such content (hmmn, sorta like a repeat of what CNN did to the old "official news" guard in the 80's with 24 hour tv news, and watch them sleep now like the giants they slayed before them). Who will emerge as this "go to" aggregator/manager that citizens instinctively submit their hot scoops to? It ain't likely to be CNN or MSNBC, cuz they clearly are disinterested in what real people have to give them (insert condescending pat on the head to us citizen eyewitnesses "leave it to us professionals, kiddo"). And watch this as-yet-undetermined upstart brand actually obtain and break the biggest stories of the year/century, while Anchorman stands around waiting for the official press release to come in. There will be a defining event that will break this tension wide open, and someone will emerge as the winner.

other article excerpts (and more points worth considering as we enter this Age of Citizen Journalism):

>...For all the animosity between celebrities and paparazzi, professional photographers know the rules, where the legal and ethical boundaries lie — even if they sometimes choose to overstep them. The amateurs of Scoopt don’t.

>True, the site offers guidelines and has some safety checks built in: all contributors must be over 18; Scoopt will not accept any pictures of children; nor will it take pictures obtained through what MacRae calls an overt breach of privacy (such as breaking into somebody’s house).

>But it seems almost inevitable that amateurs will overstep the mark. “They won’t think twice about sticking a camera in somebody’s face,” says MacRae. “Is that something I feel happy about? No. But it’s not something we encourage either. "

And more significant, perhaps, are the imitators — check other sites such as The Snitcher Desk (, and Spy Media ( and Cell Journalist ( Last week Splash, one of the biggest picture agencies in America, announced that it too was starting a service for members of the public who wished to “snap, send and sell”. Take a look at Shutterstock, too (


salina said...

your perspective is interesting in relation to recent headliner stories like that of US journalist Bob Woodruff and his cameraman placing themselves in danger, and actually suffering pretty severe consequences for doing so. This morning on NPR I heard a soundbite from him last year saying that he was out in the field because he knew that his audience expected it.

So yep, it appears that mainstream journalists are feeling the heat of citizen journalism and are trying to enter that sphere--honest perspective from the trenches--in order to keep relevant their profession.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

but, note, too, Bob Woodruff is only one example in a shortlist of OLD SCHOOL JOURNALISTS who used to actually be present in the trenches. the first Gulf War was about the first time where "journalists" en masse, gave up their birthright and started bending to the Anchorman style of reading the government releases from the safety of the hotel balcony. i think the weopons of mass destruction fiasco showed us that style of journalism is not only lazy, but potentially harmful to our civic understanding of the issues. i say can all the anchorman hairdos and let more citizens put ask the tough questions direct. imagine if a "news" channel could actually use technology to place citizens in the white house situation room and ask real town hall forums directly!