Yahoo and Reuters Seek Photobloggers

Posted on December 4, 2006

The New York Times is reporting that Yahoo and Reuters are launching a service centered around photographs and videos submitted by the general public.

Starting tomorrow, the photos and videos submitted will be placed throughout and Yahoo News, the most popular news Web site in the United States, according to comScore MediaMetrix. Reuters said that it would also start to distribute some of the submissions next year to the thousands of print, online and broadcast media outlets that subscribe to its news service. Reuters said it hoped to develop a service devoted entirely to user-submitted photographs and video.

"There is an ongoing demand for interesting and iconic images," said Chris Ahearn, the president of the Reuters media group. He said the agency had always bought newsworthy pictures from individuals and part-time contributors known as stringers.

"This is looking out and saying, 'What if everybody in the world were my stringers?'" Mr. Ahearn said.

The project is among the most ambitious efforts in what has become known as citizen journalism, attempts by bloggers, start-up local news sites and by global news organizations like CNN and the BBC to see if readers can also become reporters.

The article says photos can be uploaded to Yahoo's You Witness News site. Photos will also appear on the Flickr website or another Yahoo site. The article says some photographs chosen by editors from Yahoo and Reuters will also appear on pages containing "relevant news articles." There generally will be zero payment for these user-submitted photos. The exception to the no payment rule will be small payments for "people whose photos or videos are selected for distribution to Reuters clients."
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.
For this service to succeed Reuters and Yahoo will need lots of people to happily submit photographs and videos. Chris Ahearn, the president of the Reuters media group, is asking, "What if everybody in the world were my stringers?" Everyone in the world probably doesn't want to be a Reuters stringer but enough people might to make it an interesting service. The hardest part for the Reuters and Yahoo editors will be filtering out copyrighted photos and altered photos. They may also be swamped with lots of family and friends photographs as people try to get pictures of people they care about distributed on Reuters -- especially if they have plans to cover "local news and high school sports" as the Times article mentions. More discussion here on Techmeme.

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