Monday, December 04, 2006

Big boost for citizen photo-journalism

Yahoo and Reuters have jointly launched a new effort to consolidate citizen photo-journalism efforts. Starting tuesday, people can upload photographs taken from their cellphones or digital cameras onto a section called you witness news on Yahoo news.

These photos will be put up on Yahoo news and Reuters sites and will be available to editors at Yahoo News and Reuters, who will use the photographs in relevant articles. The best part is that people whose photos or videos are selected for distribution to Reuters' clients will be paid!

The best part is that this part of a broader initiative by Reuters. According to the New York Times,

The arrangement with Yahoo is one of several initiatives by Reuters to use the
Internet to bring new sources to its news report. It has invested $7 million in
Pluck, a company that distributes content from blogs to newspapers and other
traditional media outlets. It has also backed two more experimental ventures:, an effort to foster reporting that combines the work of professional journalists with input from online readers, and Global Voices, a collection of blogs from less-developed countries.

It would be very interesting to see how well this initiative will perform. Articles announcing this news have listed a number of reasons why this could potentially fail. One of them ofcourse, is that this will not give the user the instant gratification they can get by putting their videos or photos on websites such as youtube.

But maybe people will still participate enthusiastically because being carried alongside a Reuters article is definitely more prestigious than being seen on youtube. Besides, they can make money too!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Different language, different message

The New York Times has carried an article today about the factual variations in the Chinese and English versions of wikipedia in the entry for Mao Zedong.

The English version describes him as "a victorious military and political leader who founded China’s modern Communist state" but also adds that he was "a man whom many saw as “a mass murderer, holding his leadership accountable for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent Chinese."

According to the New York Times, in the Chinese version, "Mao’s reputation is unsullied by mention of any death toll in the great purges of the 1950s and 1960s, like the Great Leap Forward, a mass collectivization and industrialization campaign begun in 1958 that produced what many historians call the greatest famine in human history."

I thought this is a good example of different viewpoints to cater to different audiences even if it is the same publication (in this case website). It is hard to say whether this is deliberate because after all, Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia where viewers edit the information.

But this article reminded me of a recent discussion that took place in our class on "Beat Reporting."We were speculating whether the new Al-Jazeera channel in English would have the same content and tone as the original Al-Jazeera in Arabic. One theory that emerged was that Al Jazeera might be changing their overall image and viewpoint by employing so many western, english speaking reporters. The other theory was that the English channel and the Arabic channel might have little in common, since they cater to different audiences anyways.

In today's "transparent" world( China is the exception I suppose), is it really possible for news organisations to send divergent messages to different audiences without getting caught? Maybe its not that difficult.