December 04, 2006

Bubble 2.0 - Another Digital Sharecropping Arrangement - Yahoo and Reuters

This is "Work" as in "free" - NYT: Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service.

He said it, not me:

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

And who's getting paid? Not you! (well, a little if your work is usable, but not much, unless you're really, really, lucky)

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. ...

And later in the article, certain Usual Suspects appear - i.e. certain projects which aim to repackage minor writers and researchers for potential mass media syndication (though this is not how they describe themselves).

I'm tempted to ask my question again: What's so great about the outsourcing of journalism (and who thinks it's so wonderful)? What's so fantastic about unpaid freelancing? But I should know better.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on December 04, 2006 09:50 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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One of the better "stringer" arrangements I've ever seen (pre-internet, at that) was/is the "tip hotline" run by NewsRadio 780AM out of Chicago. If you called in a hot tip, and they ran with the story, you'd get $78. If your hot tip was the biggest story over a 78-day run, you'd win an additional $780. Not bad for making a phone call. Someopne actually got the "big" money for phoning in a tip about the Great Chicago Flood some years back. Stories like that seemed bleedingly obvious, but it didn't hurt to phone it in anyway.

HOWEVER, they made no bones about where you stood in that arrangement: You tipster, they network. And no, you didn't get to marginally associate yourself with them for tipping them off, other than to say "I got $78 for calling the radio station to report [whatever]." Contrast that to the insipid "iReport for CNN" campaign of late.

The Weather Channel is pretty good about running unsolicited weather footage, however it's not like the producer gets to be on camera, or do the audio. They run "quiet" footage of [whatever] and give a nod to whoever sent the tape in. Kinda like having your picture shown on a morning talk show for your birthday.

Thus: Yes, "citizen journalism" or whatever it's called these days has been around for some time, however I'm with you: What's so great about it if you're on the "stringer" end of the bargain? I would say "the experience", but that's like saying Three Card Monty makes you a better poker player. Maybe if you're the dealer, not the chump.

Hmmm... if I were still blogging, I might have run with that "dealers and chumps" angle. Never mind that... I need photos of that menace, Spider Man! (Pounding desk)

Posted by: Ethan at December 4, 2006 10:26 AM

If you're looking for an evangelist for the "outsourcing of journalism," then Jeff Jarvis is your man.

Posted by: Michael Zimmer at December 4, 2006 10:55 PM

Ethan: Exactly. And note in Three Card Monty, one important element of the con is to make the mark feel like he's "empowered" versus the dealer (while the dealer is playing the mark with this manipulation).

Michael: Yes.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 5, 2006 03:29 PM