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)