Friday, January 30, 2009

Why pay citizen journalists?

Demotix, London's "Citizen Newswire," explains why it pays contributors, however little:
Given the success of Wikis, Creative Commons and open-source, it is tempting to see the future of journalism in free-to-edit, unpaid websites. These sites, such as NowPublic, are popular but have been criticized for being opinion-driven and derivative. You can judge for yourself the standard of articles on such sites, but what is undeniable is that only a small minority of stories are based on first-hand new information. Original journalism is in short supply....

The better the standard of photojournalism we receive, the more we can charge our media clients and pay our contributors - this will, in turn, encourage more people to take up journalism and produce better work. In this way, Demotix aims to create a ‘virtuous circle’ of citizen-journalism, which will have especially positive effects in places of the world without a free press and where selling a photo could become a crucial source of income.

Open-source, creative-commons licensed reporting is great, and it can coexist with remunerated citizen-journalism. We believe that quality journalism must survive, and that it’s worth paying for.

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