People With Cameraphones Killing Paparazzi Business Model

from the how-our-hearts-bleed dept

For quite some time, people have been setting up photo agencies to sell people’s cameraphone pictures to media outlets. While images and video from phones have, on certain occasions, been widely used, many of these agencies had previously reported business was slow-going, while people appear to be perfectly happy to send their images directly to news outlets and not worry about getting paid. However, one “top” paparazzo now says everyday people with cameraphones are driving photographers’ fees down to new lows (registration required, via MocoNews). With all the talk of how “citizen journalism” is going to revolutionize the media, in reality, things are changing fairly slowly — but the rise of cameraphone users as on-scene photographers and replacement paparazzi is a notable exception. Of course, some people would argue that this isn’t a good thing, and that the rise in citizen paparazzi just leads to a decline in the privacy of celebrities and everybody else. That’s not necessarily the case; people’s desire to see these sorts of images existed before, and exists separately from, the ubiquity of cameraphones. Technology may simplify distribution, but it doesn’t create the appetite for voyeurism on the part of, say, PerezHilton.com readers. Still, if this is the most successful example of citizen journalism, more than anything it’s an indictment of the way major media are trying to get their audience to participate, or perhaps even a sign that this concept of “citizen journalism” is a bit flawed. It shouldn’t be about citizens replacing journalists or professional photographers, but how everyday people can add to professional reporting and enhance it.


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Comments on “People With Cameraphones Killing Paparazzi Business Model”

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11 Comments
misanthropic humanist says:

room for all

Sites like the BBC actively solicit for user content. Then they act as a filter and quality control to edit that into “news”. It doesn’t mean they are laying off more outside photographers and professional writers, it just means that to be a pro you need to raise your standards to compete. A good thing in my opinion.

Tyshaun says:

Re: room for all

Sites like the BBC actively solicit for user content. Then they act as a filter and quality control to edit that into “news”. It doesn’t mean they are laying off more outside photographers and professional writers, it just means that to be a pro you need to raise your standards to compete. A good thing in my opinion.

I do think it’s a threat to professional journalist, but not because of competition but because of lack of selectivity of the general population. As a news outlet today the emphasis is on quantity as opposed to quality, primarily because of the increase demand for “fill” for multiple news outlets (24 hr news stations, online sites, etc) AND the general population appears to have an inordinate appetite for news/gossip, even if it is of inferior quality. Given my assertions it would naturally follow that news agencies would work to cultivate free news services, like aspiring camerphone reporters, not so much because they want to encourage interactivity and such, but because it primes the pipes and keeps the news feed flowing. That would seem to be a much more logical direction than continuing to hire more professional journalists.

As per raising standards, that sounds suspiciously like the same argument given as to why file sharing is accepted by many denizens of this blog, and I can only say that I think it’s only part of the picture. I think that in the long run the larger issue is that the general population doesn’t demand more quality reporting, images, and video feed by not using inferior media outlets. How the hell else do you explain why Anna Nicole Smith is still even an issue?

misanthropic humanist says:

unwashed mass media

Yes, you’re right about the reduction in standards actually. Content not quality is the hook. So, in the old days you were a professional photographer because you had a $2000 camera. Now anyone with a phone can be at the right place at the right time.

I think in England it really started with the 7/7 bombings. The BBC had nothing, naturally by the time they got any reporters on the scene the show was half over. Then all the cameraphone footage came out on the net and they realised that viewers were switching off the TV and talking about what they saw on video sites. They realised that they had to either embrace peer media or allow it to bypass them.

I’m not quite sure I get what you say about file sharing and the opinions of others here. What do you think constitutes “high standards” now?

Agree about Anna Nicole Smith, and all that crap. The celebrity thing is dying on its ass. Reality TV sort of displaced the “beautiful people” phenomena. People now want “ugly people”, they want to see coarse behaviour, discord and fights, imperfection and so on.

Perhaps that’s what is really killing the paparazzi, that interest in their subject is dying out?

|333173|3|_||3 says:

A cameraphone wildiong person is likely to get an image of most unexpected news-worthy events in developed countries, since there is likelyt ot be at least one person around with some for m of camera. OTOH, the news companies have only a limited number of photographers, and cannot flood the universe for the chance of a surprising image.

Also, there is the question of how events become news. If no-one knows something happened, then how are the journalists going to find out. I think that in part the push to citizen journalism is to encourage people to come straight to them rather than publish what they know on thier own sites and all the blogs they read. It might mean trawling though seas of rubbish, but at least it raises the chance of getting the next big scoop.

Enrico Suarve says:

Thats progress folks

Yes some photographers and paparazzi (I don’t class them as the same thing) may lose their jobs and in some cases this will be very unfortunate but is likely to be unavoidable

This is just the way of the world – like #5 says the chances are when something big happens you DON’T have a professional photographer there and by the time you can get one to the scene it will often be mainly over. So because there was no one there at the time with an official press pass we are supposed to ignore other sources? Sorry but I don’t buy that

I think there will always be a market for truly professional images, the professional photographer has a different way of looking at things and manages to get single pictures to tell entire stories – quality of camera phones aside I think that is well outside the grasp of most people

There probably will be a dip in quality of reporting while news agencies try to use cheaper content and go for the money. However I think that people will tire of shitty pictures quickly and the trend will probably reverse on its own

This is just progress and if you look at the difference between the single page pamphlets of a few hundred years ago and the multiple source, visual, audio and text based news services now you’ll see on the whole it’s a good thing with more information being available to the public. Progress does bring pain sometimes though and the loss of jobs through a new technology is nothing new

Recently there has been a dumbing down of new especially on the TV but hopefully this will suffer an inevitable backlash (either people will get sick of watching the tripe on Fox news or become so stupid that Darwinism will start to take greater effect)

As for the paparazzi, come on – the standard ‘Anna/Paris/random celebrity tart gets into car’ shot is tired – very tired. I’ve seen you guys and how you behave – how anyone can call that a job, let alone one the public should care about protecting is beyond me

bshock (profile) says:

professional journalists have met the enemy...

The real enemy to professional journalists is most likely professional journalists themselves.

Look at the pathetic state of political reporting these days. White House correspondents should be renamed “stenographers.”

Look at reporting in science and medicine. Every new study is tarted up on its flashiest and often least relevant points. Remember “Dolly” the cloned sheep? That was a minor, almost irrelevant afterthought in a much larger study, but was completely blown out of proportion by poorly educated “journalists” who were looking for something they felt might interest the poorly educated.

Look at Fox News. Or perhaps for the good of your intellect, don’t.

Look at the general division between journalism and entertainment. That’s difficult to do these days, because it no longer exists. Some have argued that it never did exist, but that’s just a matter of mincing terms. The difference between journalism and entertainment was and still should be the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Journalists seem to have forgotten this.

If citizen journalists are diluting the news pool, perhaps that’s in part because professional journalists had long since abandoned their standards. If professional journalists in fact still had standards and scrupulously followed them, would there be any question about the role of citizen journalists?

If journalism were a military organization, a truly professional journalist would be an officer and a citizen journalist would be an enlisted man. Whose fault is it when no one can tell the difference between the generals and the grunts?

tony says:

The media loves Citizen Journalism because it is CHEAP! pure & simple. Why pay somebody a wage and benefits when you can get the work for nothing, even if the quality is not as good. Media organisations are only interested in keeping costs down and profits up.
The same thing is happening in many industries it’s called Wikinomics, basically you get somebody to do for free through cyberspace what you previously paid somebody else to do. It WILL lead to job loses and not just the paparazzi, it will touch all of us.

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