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.