[Citizen Journalism] Demotix is Beautiful Innovation

I haven’t been in Austin these past few days, but I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the talks and news coming out of this year’s South by Southwest the best I could. Geek By Proxy, if you will.

While clearing out the weekend feeds, I happened upon one of this year’s SXSWi award finalists in the community category thanks to a feature at Wired’s Epicenter. Demotix is a U.K.-based start-up that attempts to formalize the citizen journalism process, searching for a Goldilocks solution between the “too amateur” cell phone photography and “too exclusive” professional wire services. The service is based on user submissions of high-quality news images from around the world, and after Demotix reviews and publishes these images, they are available at cost to major news organizations; anything that comes in from a photo is then split 50-50 with the wire service and the original contributor.

I love this concept for so many reasons. One, it creates an army of photojournalist freelancers around the world who can provide a breadth of news stories of which we never knew. Second, the motivation is not career driven, since the payday that comes at the end probably isn’t anything more than pub money, the contributors are likely submitting work that is the result of their interests, not any small monetary reward. Still, these photos are still top quality (here are a few samples; since they are watermarked I didn’t want to embed and encourage you to check out everything available, though).

The service is about more than a place for citizen journalists to contribute; there is a focus on world events and the authentic voices who can relate those stories through photos. The aforementioned Wired piece features an interview with Turi Munthe, Demotix CEO founder, who isn’t shy about how he wants to tell authentic stories: “It’s no longer, ‘White man goes off to tell stories in dark corners of the world and relating it back…We’re telling native stories in a native way and just creating a platform for the stories to get seen and potentially bought.”

You could lose hours clicking through the galleries on the site, so if you have time, you absolutely should. This is a refreshing approach to covering news – and something only possible because of the changes in the way news is made and covered. It doesn’t have to all be, “doom and gloom newspapers are dying.” There are plenty of good stories out there, and plenty of stories that need to be told. Munthe’s army will be there to tell the latter.

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2 Comments on “[Citizen Journalism] Demotix is Beautiful Innovation”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by TweetDiscovered: RT @levydr:Beautiful innovation in citizen journalism: http://bit.ly/b215Dv

  2. Jarret says:

    How do you feel this jives with another publicized renaissance of news-gathering on the web; the hyper-local web based paper? Could something like Demotix be a source of raw info– photos, video, and eyewitness accounts– that are [minutes] later distilled into a news article on one of these sites?

    Dan Kennedy’s column yesterday in the Guardian discusses the New Haven Independent, which I read when I go to CT for business. I’m also glad Western New York gets some love too (I hadn’t known previously about the Batavian)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/mar/16/future-news-journalism-local


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