culture crit news photo web adds my photo to a story


I got an email from Calder Lorenz, Director of Contributor Relations at asking me for permission to attach this photo (from Flickr) to a story about Mexico extraditing drug lords to the U.S. I’m glad he at least asked and let me know he wanted to use (or share) it.

The image is (sort of) protected by a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike License. I’m a believer in sharing ideas. At this point in time, I am not overly concerned with making money on my creative work. That Creative Commons license is basically an “open source” license for media. If someone decides to use my photo/video to make money, they’ll have to negotiate with me before being legally free to use it. If it serves a non-profit or educational purpose, feel free use it or twist it into something new. Just let me know about it. If my work becomes so massively distributed and culturally important that I could actually make money on it, I suppose I might renegotiate with my conscience.

This is the first time I noticed and I’m not sure yet what I think of it. Will it be a citizen journalism media frenzy? Or get clogged up with people ranking hot chicks as news?

“We are not just a digg, where we are focused on the editorial stuff, or a Flickr, where we are focused on photography, or YouTube, where it is just video, or Blogger, for that matter, where it is just written stuff. We are pretty much everything…. We organize all of the information around these news events and people can collaborate and report on news stories from whereever they are with whatever device they are using.” Michael Tippett, CEO Founder of [source]

At a conference for public broadcasting in February, a panelist asked this question: Which is more real, 200 cellphone pictures of an event or a 30 second story by a reporter? The question draws attention to the bias any individual has in telling a story. Hundreds of people telling the same story adds credibility. So giving people a platform should be a great idea… but I’m still a little sceptical of the process. I still think there is a cultural divide of people who are consciencious and those who just don’t care. At the moment, NowPublic’s top stories are about burlesque, sex symbols, fashion, and tattoos. Go figure.

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5 replies on “ adds my photo to a story”


Thanks for publishing your photograph at NowPublic and I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Right now we are seeing some of the more salacious material rise to the top of the sort but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Just like with Yahoo, where sex and related topics make up the top search terms, there is lots of other good stuff there. We are going be rolling out a better search and beefier social news tools to help cut through some of the clutter and get to the stuff that does interest you. Personally I am getting into the location sort these days. Have a look and let me know what you think.

Of course the best way to impact what news is being seen is to add something to the list of stories. Try out the Public View tool. It lets you add stories and also gives you citizen journalist window into major media reports.

Thanks again for your feedback and I hope to see you on the site soon.


Michael Tippett,

After Calder Lorenz asked me to publish the photo, I asked him what keeps my photo as the cover image on the story. He said, “people vote on the photo’s, and whichever photo they feel is the most compelling or most intriguing will stay at the front. We like that people have a democratic process when they choose.” Michael’s point (above) about cutting through the clutter is pretty important here. The masses’ perspective is valuable, but not necessarily useful 100% of the time in terms of important social issues. I’m definitely curious to see how NowPublic sees best to solve that one.

Also, I’m also thinking about how I can reference this photo being “published” with some sort of credibility. It was selected by a staff member, but it could have just as easily been self-published. Is it more valuable for my resume to have a photo published through a Photo Editor for a paper/magazine that no one sees, or a self-published photo that gets thousands of votes on a public website?

So long as the page doesn’t have any advertisements – which it doesn’t look like it does – then they should have been able to go ahead and use your photo without your permission (since you already gave it with the CC license) as long as attribution is given.

Most Flickr users don’t use Creative Commons licenses though, so like Calder Lorenz, I spend a lot of time asking people permission to post photos onto Global Voices. They’re almost always thrilled to have their content show up on a widely-read site, but I have a feeling that as citizen journalism matures, users will begin to realize that it is their content which is making these aggregating sites successful, and they will want their share of the pie.

That’s why Gather caught my eye – they supposedly share their ad revenue with contributors.

Anyway, really like the questions you raise here.

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