New News: Shoot Footage, Get Paid

What makes information ‘news-worthy’? Every photo or video you take will not fall into the ‘news-worthy’ category of information. However, it is not hard to imagine that you might just be in the right place at the right time to snap a photo or video of a hazard, a celebrity or an event of significance which could be considered worthy of broadcast or distribution. If you can’t be there to take the footage yourself, you could hire someone to be your ‘stringer’ (camera operator).

News-worthy ‘user-generated’ content is potentially ubiquitous in today’s digital world but a value exchange (besides social value – a ‘like’ or a ‘re-tweet’) or monetisation attributed to the ‘person off the street’ for their content is relatively rare. Stringr, a media start-up in the US, aims to bring this value exchange to life through its platform by facilitating ‘news footage’ capture, content sale and distribution.

How does Stingr work?

According to Stringr’s CEO Lindsay Stewart:

“It’s a marketplace where our media customers can come in, drop a pin, give a deadline, say what kind of footage they want and then it goes out to our community of highly-responsive videographers”.

Footage is then uploaded to the platform for media customers (e.g. traditional media) to search and then payment goes to the videographer next day. Stringr is currently in 10 markets in the US and claims to have about 4,000 videographers on the service since launching in San Diego last year. It has also reportedly pitched to UBER on the idea of having their drivers make use of their downtime by doubling as roaming journalists. The startup plans to release an app in next month and eventually let subscribers buy video of “anything, anywhere” within an hour through its online and mobile platforms.

Why is this disruptive to the news media?

In news media, whenever there is a breaking story or an exclusive there can be a scramble for the footage. Anyone who has ever worked at a news organisation has seen the deals made on the spot to get exclusive footage – sometimes reaching the $5000 mark – or the cost to scramble a team to capture the story. Given high-quality cameras are now ubiquitous, a higher proportion of this footage is  being taken by ‘by-standers’, ‘citizen journalists’ or freelance stringer organisations rather than your traditional news crew. A platform like Stringr opens up the market for news content to the world offering anyone the opportunity to have their exclusive footage paid for.

Extrapolating further… controlling a greater portion of ‘news-worthy’ content is a powerful position to be in. It begins to call into question the role of the traditional news media organisation particularly if Stringr opens up its platform to the public for on-demand, searchable viewing – just add a subscription for a revenue model and you have a paid platform for news cutting

Other valuable digital content being left on the table?

People freely post photos and videos that carry a ‘newsworthy’ value in the same way that we give our data to digital organisations (e.g. Google, Facebook) in exchange for use of their digital services (maps, email, connecting with friends). Like Stringr, it is possible that we will see in the near future an increase in the number of organisations/digital platforms that put the monetisation of personal digital assets back in the hands of the user. After all, why not ‘get paid’ for your personal data, your home data, your media, your tweets, your likes, your… LinkedIn posts 😉

What is considered ‘news-worthy’, who generates news content and where the public access news media are all changing. Incumbent news media organisations continue to differentiate by being the ‘trusted and reliable’ sources of news. However, in a world where 80-90% of content is user-generated from organisations like Stringr, this distinction is no longer compelling. The difference will then be the journalism, the story-telling and curated content – which are arguably up for grabs too.


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