The explosion of mobile content creation and sharing has enabled journalists all over the world to upload and broadcast news immediately, wherever it’s happening. But citizen journalists and freelancers on the ground at a news event rarely are paid much (if at all) for the multimedia content they create. Cont3nt, a new wire service of sorts, is hoping to get publications to pony up for this kind of coverage by giving them access to what could potentially be a flood of cheap, highly-relevant content.
The site, now in beta testing, serves as an online marketplace for photo and video place-specific journalism — both international and hyperlocal. What founder Anton Gelman calls a “free market for a free press,” is basically a platform where publishers can connect with contribut0rs and buy their geolocated real-time content.
Certainly there is a use case for a freelancer in Egypt who wants to get their video to a U.S. media outlet quickly (and be paid for it), but what’s especially interesting is Cont3nt’s ability to utilize this platform for hyperlocal news. Gelman told Street Fight recently that the local publications that use the on the site — currently 150 in the U.S. and Canada — can save money on production costs while accessing a “pipeline of incredibly relevant content coming in from their own community members.”
“With the right story, a hyperlocal publication can increase their revenue significantly and sometimes make their editorial budget on a single piece,” Gelman said.
Part of why a service like Cont3nt is so appealing to cost-conscious hyperlocals is because producing quality proprietary video content can be very expensive. According to Gelman, allowing them to aggregate content and pay the contributor directly takes a lot of the cost out of the equation. Meanwhile they have the ability to use an “explosion of content” and gain faster access to breaking news.
“Purchasing this content directly from pros and semi-pros in your community saves time and money while increasing website user engagement and ‘expanding’ their staff by dozens or hundreds of people,” Gelman said.
Contributors who use Cont3nt set up their own licensing fee, and pay the company a commission of no more than a 5 percent. The publications that use Cont3nt pay a monthly fee, and then pay the contributor directly for their content. Editors can then search for multimedia entries on a map, where stories are organized by time. After buying a story, the editor can seamlessly ingest hi-res files, rights, and meta-data.
One major issue that often plagues citizen journalism is that it’s hard for news organizations to verify the process and veracity of a new contributor’s work on the fly. Gelman says that Cont3nt gets around this problem by having users create verified profiles since, “what media companies actually trust is not the content but the person who made the content.”
Isa Jones is an intern at Street Fight.