What's "replacing" PJs?
CyberJournalist.net ran a press release from The Associated Press yesterday announcing the wire service's partnership with www.NowPublic.com, a "citizen journalist" site.
In the release, AP states,
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information...
I'm confused. Is AP wanting to remove the words "unbiased" and "trusted" from their self description? As we found in Lebanon, even paid stringers have agendas. Does anyone believe an unpaid, untrained citizen journalist (CJ) is going to also be unbiased?
However, I wanted to see what is being produced by CJs that should intimidate the pro PJs. So I looked through their Most Recent Photo section. I understand it'll be different each time someone looks at it so there's no point in discussing specific sets of images (when I looked it was mostly dogs in costumes). But, I can immediately see a trend, which creates some problems for AP.
Let's assume some poor AP editor is tasked with digging through the mud to find the diamonds. Once one is located, the editor reads the cutline. There's the first problem. Most turned-in images don't have cutlines. However, some photographers expressed why they made the images or what they were thinking or feeling when the image was made. That's nice.
The site's developers thought this through and provide an e-mail address to contact the photographer. Cool, one e-mail and AP has a cutline.
Gosh, there might be the second problem. What if the person who made the image doesn't check their e-mail very often? What if the image was actually shot last week or last year?
Let's have a happy day and let the CJ answer the e-mail and call the local bureau. All is cool now. Unfortunately, the photographer was snapping pictures and didn't write down any names. BUT, they do know the name of the person that's pretending to be arrested.
However, let's be honest. There are times when any image is better than none. There are even some CJs who can hold their own against PJs. I have no problem with (semi-trained) CJs. But, I don't approve of anyone giving content away for free. I'm happy to compete against cheap and inexperienced.
Nobody can compete against free.
The worst part is CJs are paying to provide content. They pay for the equipment, they pay for fuel, they may purchase access to an event, they pay an Internet Service Provider to transmit images. Any way we look at it, the CJs are paying to have their images taken from them.
If someone has a desire to "let their name be known" for cheap, at least go to a micro-stock agency like Shutterstock.com and get your quarter-per-download. It'll start to pay for the cost of acquiring images. If a CJ is really good, s/he may make a profit. Good for them.
Until this happens my dear pro PJs, list your dits and 400mm lenses on Ebay. Forget all that rubbish about f-stops and accuracy. AP replaced us all with "trusted and unbiased" (free) CJs. They'll soon be taking us inside prisons and riding out hurricanes to let us know which pet fashions are hot this season.
Enough for now,