By Eric Auchard
Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), in partnership with Reuters, is
inviting the public to contribute eyewitness photos and videos of news
events, in the latest move to turn spectators into on-the-spot
The Internet media company said it has created a news contribution
system called "You Witness" and is working with news and information
company Reuters Group Plc, which will edit and distribute selected
photos to other news outlets.
Yahoo plans to run selected images contributed by users as part of
topical packages on Yahoo News, which currently offers news from
dozens of professional news organizations including Associated Press,
CNN and Reuters.
With hundreds of millions of camera phones in circulation, consumers
are able to take high-quality photos and videos.
The South Asian tsunami, the London Underground bombings and the
impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans have showcased the power of
people who happen to be in the wrong place at the right time to
capture history as it happens.
"There is already a lot of quality amateur journalism being created by
our users," said Scott Moore, head of news and information at Yahoo
Media Group. "Yahoo needed a more efficient process for soliciting and
publishing user- contributed photos and video."
While focused initially on news, Yahoo aims to expand the You Witness
system to solicit user contributions for sports, entertainment and
other sections of its site, a spokesman for the Sunnyvale,
California-based company said.
Yahoo and London-based Reuters are working out a plan to compensate
contributors when their images are selected for commercial
syndication, the two companies said.
"We are looking at the possibility of creating photo wires and
archives to allow people to be compensated for their work and for the
images they are able to capture," said Chris Ahearn, president of
Starting on Tuesday, contributors can submit photos to You Witness via
a link off of the main page of Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com) or
to Reuters at http://www.reuters.com/youwitness. Yahoo is weighing
when and whether to expand the program to international sites.
Many local and national news organizations invite their readers or
viewers to contribute eyewitness news reports.
But media outlets have been wary about how to maintain quality
control, avert hoaxes and compensate contributors without fueling a
mercenary atmosphere around news events.
http://CNN.com , another top-ranked news site, invites users to
volunteer what it calls "I-Reports" -- "stories seen through your eyes
and your lens." But it does not pay contributors.
The new undertaking by Yahoo News, the No. 1 online news site with 34
million U.S. readers in October according to comScore Networks data,
is more extensive. Yahoo also owns the photo-sharing site Flickr,
where amateur photographers often post photos of breaking news events
Video news contributions will eventually be distributed under the
current deal, Yahoo and Reuters officials said.
"We want to expand the initiative to include text stories, but photos
and video were the most obvious way to begin," said Moore, who
previously was publisher of online magazine Slate.
Reuters already pays the public for hot images and that will continue,
Ahearn said. For example, in 2000, the famous photo of a Concorde
plane in flames just ahead of its crash in Paris was purchased by
Reuters from a Hungarian plane spotter.
"We have been seeking to increase the number and range of voices that
can be active in our service," Ahearn said. "This is another step in
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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