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12/4/2006
07:42 PM
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Yahoo And Reuters Want Your News Images

The You Witness News page at Yahoo will incorporate user-generated images and video to illustrate and enhance stories on Yahoo News and Reuters.com. Payment plans are vague, however.

If you witness news, Reuters and Yahoo want you to share. Starting on Tuesday, the two companies will begin accepting photographs and videos of news events from Internet users and placing user-generated content with related online news stories.

Following in the footsteps of Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, photo journalist Robert Capa, Kennedy assassination videographer Abraham Zapruder, and today's YouTube video-activists, You Witness News deputizes anyone armed with electronics as a member of much maligned media. The initiative continues Yahoo's effort to derive value from its user base and shows that traditional media companies like Reuters recognize the merits of "crowdsourcing."

"The goal of creating this service is to essentially take advantage of all of the people who are out there with cell phone cameras or portable video cameras who may be a witness to breaking news and give them a very easy one-click access to a global news audience online," says Scott Moore, head of news and information at the Yahoo Media Group.

The You Witness News page on Yahoo will be used to solicit user-generated images and videos in order to illustrate and enhance stories on Yahoo News and Reuters.com. And Reuters plans soon to distribute select submissions to its print and broadcast news customers.

Plans to pay users for their contributions remain vague but Moore says both companies plan some form of reward. "We do intend to compensate users who contribute valuable photos and video," says Moore. "That's partly why we did the partnership with Reuters. It's not like anybody is going to make a living doing this but we recognize that there is commercial value in these kinds of images and videos, and we are going to have a mechanism that at least allows people to get paid for their contributions."

Initially, Yahoo will be offering a social reward in the form of online profiles that show what users have submitted. "The main value proposition for people who witness news and capture it in some way is that they are going to have the opportunity to take their experience and share it with literally tens of millions of people around the world instantaneously," says Moore, though he adds, "We may compensate people too for contributions that we only run on Yahoo News."

Reuters plans to compensate photographers and videographers when it distributes their work to its news clients. The details are still being worked out.

Submitted material will be screened by editors to separate the good from the bad and fraudulent. This is an issue of particular importance to Reuters, which in early August withdrew photos filed by a freelancer based in the Middle East after revelations that some of the photographer's images were inappropriately manipulated.

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