Cameras in the Field

Let’s start the week with a look at two different approaches to citizen journalism, one from a German startup (with a U.S. offshoot) that is paying contributors, and the other from a TV station that hopes to reinvigorate local news.

The Poynter Institute’s Steve Outing recently lamented that citizen journalism sites have so far asked contributors to post content for free — and lauded the 20-month-old German startup Creative Weblogs for offering to pay contributors whose posts draw traffic. The pay-for-posting opportunity is being carried on through a newly-launched site called Creative Reporter. According to Outing:

“(Creative) CEO Torsten Jacobi (said) this tool allows anyone to easily contribute text, video, and audio content to his company’s network. Those submitting content will be named as contributors and receive $10 for each 1,000 page-views that their content generates.”

Creative, which has an office in Palo Alto, says it now reaches more than 900,000 unique visitors and serves up more than 2.5 million page impressions per month.

Meanwhile, in the old-media-learning-new-tricks department, a recent Business Week article focused on efforts to revitalize local TV news coverage at WKRN TV in Nashville. The article describes a two-pronged effort: part one, retraining the news staff to use small-format cameras that would allow a smaller (perhaps single-person?) news team to go out in the field; part two, training local bloggers in video production so they can also become contributors. Business Week noted that the BBC had adopted the similar tactic of using small format cameras (I saw no mention of enlisting video bloggers) and said that, as a result, the BBC had increased the number of cameras iit can put in the field “from 84 to over 1,000.”

One line in the article touched me personally — “Guiding WKRN is Michael Rosenblum, the veteran TV producer-cum-consultant.” Before I had read of Rosenblum’s latest adventures, I ended a recent posting with anecdote involving him from my days at Columbia J-School. Business Week said Rosenblum has also recently consulted for Al Gore’s Current TV. Small world!

Anyhow, the tools they are a changin’ and media must change with them. For instance, Gizmodo recently noted that Creative Technologies is gearing up to sell a $199 gadget that “incorporates an MP3 player, voice recorder, and of course, a digital camera in its list of features.” I’m sure it won’t be broadcast quality but that’s not the point — it’s cameras in the field, and more lenses on the world.

(FYI, I discovered all three items in this posting by going back and reading the last week’s worth of, which I missed while I was busy traveling.)

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t MassMedia, you’re Mini Media