'Citizen journalism' agency signs up 1,200 snappers

By Dominic Ponsford

The power of so-called “citizen journalism” was underlined when a
new agency for amateur mobile phone photographers attracted 1,200
members in the space of just a week.

Scoopt now has members in 35 countries and is ready to syndicate
their work to newspapers and magazines in exchange for a 50/50 cut.
Amateur photographers can sign up and submit their images at
www.scoopt.com.

The agency had a “soft” launch without publicity
on 4 July – just days before the London bombings and the hundreds of
amateur mobile phone images from that disaster which ended up in the
media.

Scoopt founder Kyle MacRae responded to the suggestion
that cashing in on pictures like those taken on 7 July is in poor
taste: “The media are profiting from these pictures and I would like to
see the photographers profiting as well.”

MacRae also responded
to criticism from the Chartered Institute of Journalists that
encouraging members of the public to take news photos was potentially
dangerous and irresponsible.

He said those who sign up to Scoopt
agree to a detailed set of ethical terms and conditions which include
clauses about privacy and good practice.

He said: “We don’t
encourage the public to go out and get a photo of breaking news. The
public are not trained in the ethics of journalism.

“Scoopt is
founded on the principle that news happens anyway. We are not trying to
appeal to amateur photographers who want to go to the next step to be
professionals. It is more a case of if you are walking around with a
camera phone and something happens, you can get a great photo.”

Many
of the photos sent in to photosharing websites such as Flickr following
the London bombing attacks were put up under a Creative Commons
licence, which allows anyone to reproduce them provided they are
appropriately credited.

Scoopt asks for exclusive rights for
three months on any photos sent in by members. So far the agency has
yet to sell any pictures, although it has already had 600 sent to it.

MacRae said: “At the moment we are not approaching anybody until we have got the right picture.”

The
Glasgow-based agency is currently run by three business partners, but
MacRae said there were plans to take on more staff because of the need
to monitor the images coming in 24 hours a day. He said: “It’s
incredibly exciting when you are just sitting there in front of the
computers and someone from one of 35 countries sends in something that
they think is newsworthy. You just wonder what it is.”

MacRae
plans to draw up further guidelines for Scoopt users in conjunction
with the Chartered Institute of Journalists and the NUJ. He said he has
been contacted by amateur photographers whose mobile phone pictures
from 7 July were widely published by newspapers after being given away
for free.

Picture winner

TAXI DRIVER GETS LOTTERY SNAP

A taxi driver friend of Ireland’s Euro Lottery winner scooped more
than €16,000 (around £11,000)n when he sold the first photographs of
Dolores McNamara’s celebrations to a number of Irish tabloids, writes
Colin Crummy.

Jackie Greer took the photographs of the winner just moments after
she realised she had won €115m (£77m), the biggest prize in European
lottery history.

Greer was in the Track Bar in Garryowen,
Limerick, when former chemist shop assistant McNamara realised she had
the winning ticket.

The enterprising taxi driver fetched a disposable camera from his nearby home to snap the shellshocked winner.

Greer
contacted a number of Sunday newspapers and sold the pictures to
Ireland on Sunday and The Sunday World for €16,666 (£11,478).

Paul
Drury, editor of Ireland on Sunday, said of the picture: “A news
photograph has value whoever takes it and if an amateur is enterprising
enough, there will always be newspapers willing to buy

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