Networked journalism: Lensemen for hire

Another example of networked journalism: Spy Media has set up a system to allow you to ask someone to shoot and then pay for photos. You are the assignment desk and the world is your freelance pool. [via Springwise]

I will count to 10 to give someone time to fret that this will turn all your friends and neighbors into seething, stop-at-nothing paparazzi, giving more people more cause to stalk Tom Cruise to get a picture of that darned baby. But I’ll argue that the market for such photos is clearly already there; this won’t change that.

But this is a method that not only Spy but any media company could use. Why have staff photographers to go out and shoot a McDonald’s for the 100th time when you want to illustrate a story about fast food? Why not ask your community, now armed with lenses, to do it for you? And pay for the best one. It makes perfect sense.

Some of the requested photos at Spy so far include:
* $200 for a streaker at the Techcrunch party (has Web 2.0 gotten that wild and that retro at the same time?)
* $75 for hot girls on MySpace (you’d think Playboy could pay more)
* $100 for a Starbucks contest: “Most Creative Photo with a Starbucks Cup in It” (I have no idea whether that’s official… but that shows this is a pretty damned good idea for marketers, too)
* $100 Red Bull Contest: “The Photo with the Prettiest Girl and a Red Bull” (ditto)
* $250 for “Hezbollah Rocket Launchers in Civilian Area of Lebanon” (now that’s journalism; I know of a recently unemployed photographer over there)

  • Regina Downing

    I am a former journalist now doing public affairs for the feds.

    I think photojournalism is the key to online media. I think expanding photo coverage will drive readers to online newspaper and magazine sites, and I have long wondered why no one has picked up on this.

    I visit several online papers a day. I read stories about Paris fashion shows that show, if I’m lucky, one outfit. Why not accompany the story with dozens of photos? After all, a fashion show is a visual event. Photo spreads were expensive in print journalism. Online, they don’t have to be.

    What “Spy” is doing is cutting edge. It’s only my opinion. But I believe this kind of practice, if adopted by online journalists, will help to transform and revive journalism as did the last leap in visual journalism–USA TODAY.

    On the other hand, this tactic may further weaken journalism ethics. Just yesterday it was reported that a Beirut photographer darkened the smoke in a supposedly realistic photo of an Israeli assault.

  • James

    I think people were talking about doing a similar thing via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.