Photojournalist outlet Citizenside has announced plans to trial incorporating their member's photographs into the Agence France Presse's professional website. The AFP, who own 30% of Citizenside will host the photos in its image forum, although they will be clearly marked as amateur content. They will be available to the 7000 media agencies linked with AFP, although clearly marked as amateur content, and their contributors will receive up to 75% of the sale price.
However, after a similar deal with Getty Images, citizen photojournalist site Scoopt is no more. Kyle MacRae, who co-founded Scoopt in 2005 before selling it in 2007, has said in an article for Journalism.co.uk that "fundamentally, the Scoopt model doesn't work". Whilst still maintaining that nowadays there is more than likely to be a member of the public with a camera phone at any breaking news site, McRae now accepts that the chances of them being a member of an organisation such as Scoopt or Citizeside are painfully small.
McRae points out that after taking his ground breaking photo of the Hudson plane crash, Janis Krums shared it on Twitter rather than sold it - and only afterwards realised he possibly could have been compensated for its widespread commercial use in the ensuing period. McRae muses about what would have happened if there had been an option at the point of upload that stipulated any commercial usage of the image would be charged retrospectively.
He carries on to explain that it would have to be a tag recognised in search engines and applicable on all platforms where photos could be uploaded, such as Flickr and Twitter. He is also very definite that it must not require any kind of membership. McRae believes that there is opportunity for Scoopt-style sites with regard to conditions and fees but that ultimately the way to get citizen photojournalism into the press is to make it as easy as possible for contributors.
With Citizenside cutting new deals whilst Scoopt goes out of business, it appears that they could not be heading in more different directions. The problem with agencies, is as McRae explains it is logistically next to impossible to be able to guarantee that a member is always present at a breaking news scene. Likewise the logistics of introducing a universal tag, whilst ideal, seem currently a little unattainable. Either way, with citizen photojournalism increasingly present, the search for a solution is on.