Everyone is a photo journalist

Our last week’s argument about “content aggregators” is slowly manifesting itself. Today Yahoo and Reuters announced that they will start incorporating user generated photos and videos of news events into their offerings.

Starting tomorrow, cameraphone users will be able to go to You Witness News and upload their photos and videos, which will also appear on the Flickr site. Yahoo and Reuters’ editors will curate this new effort. Photos will be used on many Yahoo properties including sports and entertainment sites.

The timing of such an effort is certainly right. According to Gartner, a technology research group, nearly 48% of the total phones sold worldwide in 2006 have a camera built into them. That’s  about 460 million cameraphones. By 2010 this number will increase to a billion, or roughly 81% of the total phones sold, Gartner forecasts. In other words, there is going to be a whole lot of photo-clicking going on, and some of it is going to be news worthy.
Though this is a clever idea, it is fairly disappointing to see that Yahoo is not going to compensate people if their images are used. Yahoo will sell advertising on pages that will feature those photos, and it is appropriate for them to share the money, with at least those folks whose photos are selected for the showcase. Reuters’ says it is not sure how, but it will pay for photos or videos that are selected for distribution to Reuters’ commercial users.

The biggest challenge, for Yahoo and Reuters will be getting people to submit these photos and videos. It is not clear how the photos are going to be uploaded. An ideal scenario will be a special upload tool, that is built right into the phone with one click upload ability.