The journalism free-for-all

And the revolution continues:

Associated Press is partnering with participatory news network to introduce citizen media content into its newsgathering.

Vancouver-based NowPublic has a network of 60,000 members in 140 countries, and several thousand users contribute regularly to the site. The two firms will work together to feed photo and video content and personal accounts to AP’s national and regional newsdesks in the US, and will later tap communities that could contribute to specific stories, such as Iraq or local weather.

Jim Kennedy, vice president and director of strategic planning at AP, told that AP had always worked with contributions from the public on major news stories, such as the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 2003 and the Concorde crash in Paris in 2000. Many of those stories relied on eyewitnesses being in the right place at the right time.

Rather than replacing professional journalism, the material would be used as an extra and regular source of information for AP’s news desks.

“It is the first formal and routine collaboration we have done with citizen media,” said Mr Kennedy.

“The impact of that connection and that new routine will benefit both sides, and we expect to see a lot more of these relationships in the next few years from all media companies.”

He added that AP has always paid members of the public for contributions, so if a NowPublic member produced a photo that was used on the wires, they would be financially rewarded.… 

My cynical side wonders if AP simply wants to cut costs and can achieve this by paying citizen journalists far less than their own journalistic staff. On the other hand, this development is a healthy move towards demystifying the journalism craft (and removing purely opinion-led blogging). If media elitism is reduced due to this measure, then it should be warmly welcomed.