Citizen Media Watch

februari 5th, 2009

Scoopt's closing and the end of dedicated citjourn agencies

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Citizen journalism photo agency Scoopt has shut down. Getty Images, which purchased the site two years back, are letting it go.

In an interview in the British Journal of Photography, PJP, Getty spokesperson Alison Crombie explains that they want to focus on their core editorial business.
– People are now more visually educated, there is more awareness that they can interact directly with the media. Every time something significant happens, you will see the BBC or Sky ask for people’s photos and videos, she says.

The need for dedicated citizen journalism agencies is declining as citizens become more knowledgeable on how to reach out and get their stuff to mainstream media – and get the earnings from it. The rise of social media has to a large extent meant that they have played out their part.
Even Scoopt’s founder Kyle MacRae now think the concept is doomed.
– A smarter model is sucking in hot images from wherever they happen to be posted and shared, whether that’s Flickr or TwitPic or anywhere else, he says to BJP.


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november 13th, 2008

Joi Ito: Don't sign bad licenses

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Joi Ito at SIME'08

Citizen Media Watch met with blogging veteran, super-entrepreneur and CEO of Creative Commons Joi Ito during the SIME conference in Stockholm. He told us about how he (possibly) made the New York Times change their contract for freelance material, and he sent a message to anyone wanting to make it as a semi-pro or pro journalist or photographer.

Joi ItoMainstream media is struggling with how to use photos with Creative Commons licensing. The reason is they’re not used to attribution models, but rather to pay the photographer and get the exclusive rights for the photo, says Joi Ito.
But they are starting to learn.
– They’re realising that atleast for certain situations and certain people it’s impossible to get a photograph in time. They’re realising it’s a resource. They’re starting to learn the rules, says Joi Ito, who saw a lot of abuse of the license in the early days.

He reveals that it took him three years of refusing to sign the New York Times’s standard contract after having written an article for them before they gave in – and actually changed it for everyone. At first they simply wanted the exclusive rights, period. Now the contract says they get the exclusives for one month, then you can re-use it in any way you want.
– But they changed. It took me three years of saying no no no. You just have to keep working. Don’t sign bad licenses, advices Joi Ito.

This is part of a longer interview also addressing the need for new business models, why hyperlocal journalism is failing and the two ways for photographers to make money. We’ve made the full-length uncut interview available on our account. It is licensed under a creative commons license.

A big thanks to Joakim Jardenberg who pinpointed one of the questions for Mr Ito. And to Björn Falkevik for the filming/camera crash-course.

/Lotta & Gitta

Joi Ito at SIME'08

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maj 15th, 2007

Geo-stories, the result of the Brighton multimedia project

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The bible found on the beachIn December I wrote about the multimedia project in Brighton which is a collaboration between the University of Brighton, Nokia, Ymogen and the BBC.
Today the result was released as Geo-stories, a set of geo-tagged photos and film clips brought together as a kind of multimedia story on this site.
If the goal was to ”create engaging stories” as Mark Hardwick put it, I’m sorry to say I am not that impressed.

Guerilla gardeningThere are two ways to explore the stories, either by clicking the ”play the story” button, in which case you get the full multimedia experience with a satellite image background, music and text, photos and video clips telling a step-by-step story. Unfortunately many of them are over-done, having music with lyrics in the background while you’re supposed to read small and quite blurred text which disappears too quickly. The most engaging story is The bible on the beach, though that one raises a lot of other questions. Nowhere do we get to know if this is a fictional or true story. If it’s true, there are a lot of objections to be made. If not, that should be made clear.
The Guerilla gardening story also works okay.

The other way of exploring the stories is by clicking the dots/signs on each story’s map. That doesn’t work well at all. The navigation leaves a lot to be asked for. It sometimes, for instance on the ”Tree Survey”, brings you away from the map of photos/video clips once you click to view one of them. In other places you still get to see the map with the geotagged photos, but if you’ve zoomed in you lose the zoom once you click on a photo and have to re-zoom (and re-zoom you have to, since the standard view of the map is so much zoomed out that the photo dots are on top of eachother). If you use the Next and Previous links there are no indications on the map which dot represent the photo your looking at.

However, it is an interesting experiment, and a first step towards using geotagging in story-telling. The main flaws in the second way of story exploration are actually due to less than perfect site building, not the way the students have carried out the projects.

With some more training, this could mature into something quite interesting. But it is important to remember that a web audience usually wants to be active – clicking the forward arrows in the multimedia needs to work flawlessly. And clicking your way around a map needs to work without the map reloading and zooming when you haven’t asked it to.

As for the ”citizen media” aspect, I see no way to contribute to the site, though it says you can comment as a registered user. That doesn’t seem to include the general public, or the link is well hidden. But I guess the citizen journalism part is referring to the students not being trained journalists.

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januari 8th, 2007

Zoom lenses for cellphones to fuel the citizen paparazzi trend?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Mobile Brando's zoom lens and example photos. Photos: Mobile BrandoHong Kong-based Mobile Brando has developed a tele lens for Sony Ericsson cellphones, writes Norwegian tech site It also works with Nokia cellphones by changing the back piece to one with a lens mount. The lens is equipped with a 6x zoom, handles wide angle footage, and will cost around 19 dollars.

The main use is that you can take better pictures, getting closer to that building, flower or sight. But this development also opens up for new possibilities for ”citizen paparazzi”, ordinary people taking pictures of for instance celebrities without them noticing it.

This is of course already occuring, but not everyone walks around with a digital camera with zoom. Almost everyone has a cellphone though, and with these cheap zoom lenses, chances are that more people will be able to take close shots of celebs, or others who do not wish to appear in the media/online.

(via e24)

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januari 8th, 2007

Johan Jernemalm – Aftonbladet's "citizen photographer of the year"

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Aftonbladet articleFrom the thousands of citizen photographers sending their photos to Aftonbladet in 2006, eight finalists were selected. The readers got to decide which one of them were to be named Citizen photographer of the year. The winner is Johan Jernemalm, a 38-year-old who happened to witness a robbery at Stockholm department store NK. He heard gun-shots and quickly got out his pocket camera only to see the robbers trying to escape on a motorbike.
”It felt unreal and looked a bit funny at first, two men running with security guards at their heels”, Jernemalm told Aftonbladet. He didn’t realize it was a real robbery, but thought it was a movie shoot.
The photos turned out good enough and a very happy Johan Jernemalm received the money, around 10 000 dollars, from Aftonbladet yesterday.
”And I’m not even good at taking pictures!”, Jernemalm said.

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december 20th, 2006

Polar Rose creating some buzz

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Swedish photo/video face recognition search tool Polar Rose has got some attention in the States. Most recently on the front page of Red Herring, this article on CNN and a TechCrunch post by Michael Arrington that got some sceptical comments and then replies from Polar Rose representatives.

Red Herring cover, featuring Nikolaj NyholmAt Sime, we got an interesting presentation from Polar Rose CEO Nikolaj Nyholm (seen to the right on the Red Herring cover). What makes Polar Rose different from old school image search engines is that it works from a 3D model of 2D images.
Nyholm showed how you could take a picture of a beautiful woman you found on the net and see if you can map it to photos on online dating services. If you’re out of luck, then you could widen the search and look for other women who look somewhat like her.
To make Polar Rose really useful, you need to download their software. It’s a browser plugin that lets you tag photos on any web site.

Polar Rose founder Jan Erik Solem writes (in the comments):

Look at how visual the web is becoming. Try doing an image search for a person on your preferred search site. What you’ll most likely get is some photos of the person you were looking for and some not even close. Most likely there are even more and better photos out there without labels/text/metatags which you’ll never see. Look at the long tail of web photos (yours and mine) and you’ll see lots of photos that are unsearchable.

So what’s the social media use for Polar Rose’s technology? Well, it provides a tool for connecting photos within and across websites, for grouping photos based on their appearance instead of their context or tagging. You could find out how you are presented on the web in more detail. And, well, the dating site example might be useful for some.

Jonathan at Swedish blog lab:kloud9 writes:

there is a connection here to social media (and possibly the FBI/CIA) and any time we can make the web more sortable, I’m all for it.

Others raise concerns about privacy, like commenter Akaishi on Tech Novelty:

”It occurs to me that this could be used to do things like identify the past lives of witness protection program participants. Are the ethics of it even under consideration?”

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december 13th, 2006

Possible new industry standard provides ability to track changes in photographs

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Tom Glocer, Chief Executive officer of Reuters, disclosed in a speech at the Globes Media Conference in Tel Aviv on Monday 11 December 2006:

I am pleased to announce today that we are working with Adobe and Canon to create a solution that enables photo editors to view an audit trail of changes to a digital image, which is permanently embedded in the photograph, ensuring the accuracy of the image.
We are still working through the details and hope this will be a new standard for Reuters and I believe should be the new industry standard.

This is of course in response to the debate following the Adnan Hajj photo controversy – photos that Reuters sent out, covering the Israel-Lebanon conflict, turned out to be digitally manipulated, adding more smoke than there originally was in the photograph. Hajj later got fired and Reuters removed all of his photos from their database.
Glocer’s speech, transcribed in his blog, was about trust in the age of two-way communicative journalism.
From the Hajj case, Reuters learnt how quickly you can lose trust that has been built up for 155 years. And he draws the conclusion that exactly because of that, independent organisations such as Reuters have an important role to play in the future media landscape. Organisations that work by a code of ethics.

The risk we as an industry face is that amid all the noise, all the amateur pictures and editorial, the victim could be the truth and fact-based journalism.

Further down, he continues:

I strongly believe that in the mixing of different voices we will always need a place for the news organization whose watchword is trust. Trust will be the differentiator in the new media dynamic. Your independence and impartiality will mark you out.

(via New Media Musings)

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december 5th, 2006

Scoopt loves Flickr – and all its users' images

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Today citizen media image bureau Scoopt wrote an open letter to all Flickr users.

Here at Scoopt, we love Flickr. We love Flickr because Flickr members are some of the best snappers on the planet.

Scoopt is asking the Flickr users to tag their photos so that Scoopt can work as their agent, selling them to potential big media clients. They also need to become Scoopt members for this to take effect.

Scoopt gives examples of cases when photos from Flickr users could have generated money for the photographers, big news like the Cory Lidle plane crash or the Amish school shooting, but also more daily life things that are what the typical flickr picture is made up of.

Of course they love Flickr, with millions of users that could generate huge sales, out of which Scoopt gets 50 percent of the money. Stating they’d love to go lower, Scoopt is urging users to tell Flickr they want integration with Scoopt. It makes me wonder if the image bureau has tried to contact Flickr in this matter and have been rejected…

(via New Media Musings. JD Lasica also writes about The demise of the professional photojournalist today)

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