Comments: Bubble 2.0 - Another Digital Sharecropping Arrangement - Yahoo and Reuters

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