Jan 312012

A new mobile app aims to give YouTube a run for its money in the “citizen journalist” assignment game. Rawporter is the latest competitor to YouTube Direct, giving newsrooms the ability to request and rebroadcast video from anyone who happens to be at or near the scene of a news event. What Rawporter offers that’s new and different, as far as I can tell, is the ability to set a price in advance for the product. Co-founder Rob Gaige explained the process at a Columbia University social media event over the weekend, according to ReadWriteWeb.

The assignment feature allows producers to tell photographers how much they’ll be paid. Photo and video journalists retain rights to the work they create using the app and can share it with their followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

The free service launched for iPhone last November; an Android app is in the works. Rawporter allows publishers from news organizations to bloggers to solicit either video or stills via geolocation push notices and to pay users for their work. In an interview with the citizen journalism blog NewsMeBack, co-founder Kevin Davis said the tool aims to make it easier for “everyday people to cash in on being in the right place at the right time.”

Rawporter wants to help media outlets crowdsource cost-efficient news content that they would normally not have access to. At the same time, it’s important to us that our contributors’ rights are protected, and that they get the recognition they deserve. That’s why, if something sells, contributors get paid. If something is used, they get the on-screen or online credit.

The new reality of local TV newsrooms, which produce more hours of news than ever before, makes these kinds of tools appealing to managers and anathema to professional photojournalists. We’ve written about this new world in which everyone is a news photographer before. YouTube claims that many news organizations are using its Direct platform to collect citizen reporting about news events, among them ABC News, the Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, WHDH-TV in Boston, Tribune Company, Gannett, Al Jazeera, and ITN News. Rawporter is so new, it’s hard to tell if it’s being used at all. The question, once again, is whether these tools are a serious threat to the profession.

My own sense is that newsrooms won’t use these services instead of staff photojournalists, but they may turn to them when news breaks where they can’t go, or when they can’t get somewhere fast enough. But freelancers could face a real pinch if stations find they can reliably and quickly get cheap video of breaking news from a bystander with a smartphone. Beyond that, asking non-journalists to get video in what could be dangerous situations raises all kinds of ethical red flags.

What’s your view?


  3 Responses to “Mobile apps let newsrooms assign ‘citizen journalists’”

  1. Hi Deborah,

    Thanks for sharing Rawporter with your audience!

    We launched a couple of months ago with a baseline beta product so that we could start collecting user feedback and there are now numerous enhancements on the way that should be pretty helpful for those who want to participate. Our initial focus has been to polish the product and strengthen our business model but we are now in early discussions with a handful of traditional media outlets as well as some innovative indies.

    We think it’s important to note that Rawporter is also focused on assisting the “new media” community. We believe that access to credible and affordable video will be helpful for bloggers eager to stand out among the masses. While we expect a large percentage of assignments to come from mainstream media with breaking news needs, we believe there is significant value in video (and photos) that can be used to enhance and differentiate one blogger from the next. We’ve heard that it doesn’t always have to be sensational and that there is value in everyday events whether an exotic vacation video to a simple product review.

    Please feel free to reach out anytime. We welcome all feedback and appreciate any assistance that will help improve the experience.



  2. […] https://www.newslab.org/2012/01/31/mobile-apps-let-newsrooms-assign-citizen-journalists/ This is an article about how there is a new app out that may enable local newsrooms to attempt to […]

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