It makes a lot of sense for Associated Press to become a conduit and distributor of citizen journalism (verified, accurate and relevant), but at what point does paid UGC become just another method to gather free-lance content?
The Internet is a very efficient way for free-lance contributors to hook up with publishers (or can be) and get paid for the effort. More publishers should take advantage of this efficiency.
Citizen journalism has been used as an umbrella term to cover all kinds of UGC.
I think there is certainly a class of content that has sufficient journalistic standing to be called citizen journalism, and real journalism deserves some sort of compensation. That compensation is not always necessarily monetary.
But I view the bulk of UGC as contributions to the conversation, not necessarily journalism (in the strictest sense of the word).
In other words, for any pundits who suggest that AP’s move to paid UGC raises the bar for media companies to start paying for UGC, I don’t see it that way. Not all UGC is created equal, and some of it would despoil the value if it were created for monetary reward.
I firmly believe that many people just want to have their say and make their contribution because they feel compelled to share what they know. I think this is good for society.
I think there is real value in protecting, extending, expanding and nurturing the conversation.
I just wanted to say that.
UPDATE: Mark Glaser asks a question that is essentially related to this post: What would motivate you to contribute CitJ? Me? I’d contribute where I found it convenient and I felt like I was already part of the community. Right now, that’s pretty much my blog.
About fifteen years ago TV news departments found a way to pull in UGC…they created the “Newshawk,” “Sharpshooter,” amateur video program. Basically send us your videos of the accident, fire, breaker and we’ll pay you! We’ll give you $25-50!!! Wow. At the same time they were playing known stringers $100-200 a pop. The stations were willing to pay more to stringers knowing they were getting video shot by someone they knew had the gear and expertise to bring in a usable product. The gear might only be a step above what the average citizen had – but the difference in shooting made the difference.
I think UGC should be worth something…and the market/demand will set the scale. $25 for something ordinary plus bragging rights to your friends. Or, as in the case of a 14 year old who shot a massive rockfall in Yosemite Valley, several thousand dollars for about a minute of video and the chance to hang with cameramen from all over the country for a day (he wanted to be a news cameraman).
As an unpaid citizen journalist/blogger who uploads content for free to a social networking site owned by a media company, I hate to say I agree with Cyndy and Howard. But I agree with Cyndy and Howard.