After all this talk of citizen journalism, one is eventually going to ask the all-dreaded question: “are we getting paid for this?” I mean, in our society, isn’t money everything? Why would I do something if I can’t get paid for it? In some situations, I can see justification for wanting to be paid for their work, however I think there are also some logistical problems to consider. Today, we’ll examine some reasons citizen journalists could and should be paid for their work.
In a breaking news situation, I could see the justification for a citizen journalist wanting to be paid for their work, if they have an up-close or personal account of an event because they happened to be in the right place at the right time. Whether it be video or audio, this type of information can be extremely valuable to a news organization who is perhaps en route to the scene but cannot be there immediately.
Having an incentive for citizen journalists is a great way to keep them coming back, and to continue to produce high quality work for news organizations. As Steve Outing suggests, however, direct cash payment may not be the way to go. Keeping in mind that citizen journalists are not trained, nor on payroll, providing them with other items, such as t-shirts, mugs, hats, and maybe even early access to a story would be better. In order for citizen journalism to be successful, it has to be a give-and-take relationship from both the news organization and the citizen participant.
While most news organizations aren’t used to it yet, they may have to adapt to paying for content that is of the best quality.
People are smart and are going to figure out that they can be paid for high quality content, and once it starts with one (or a few) news organizations, the idea is going to spread to more. The idea of submitting your work to a news organization only to have them take full copyright protection of it can be off-putting to many people, so at least getting some type of compensation may quell that fear and start another revolution in the world of citizen journalism. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some of the downsides of paying citizen journalists for work- and there may be more than you think.