Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of citizen journalism and The Huffington Post and The Huffington Post’s citizen journalism project, OffTheBus. I’m a user and a cheerleader and a content creator for plenty of time-consuming, life-sucking, rather tiring citizen journalism initiatives. I won’t bore you with the details or the self-congratulatory remarks. You can read about them here. Or here.
But Arianna Huffington and Jay Rosen, bless their visionary hearts, are now, or soon will be, accepting awards for OffTheBus right and left (see Arianna’s thank-you letter to her OffTheBus contributors at the jump or here); however, OffTheBus is a grossly flawed business model… because it doesn’t pay the contributors.
Thus, I sure hope no one is considering adopting such a model as a business. Not seriously at least. As something else maybe, but not as a viable business model.
Creating cool, headline-grabbing platforms to harvest the collective mindset is not new media; it is new media slavery. And I for one will not continue to give away my content or my services for free. I’ll go further to say that any media outlet thinking they’re going to cash-in by soliciting totally free journo-content from Joe Public will be gravely and financially disappointed. (Hear that iReport?)
The increasingly techno-sophisticated masses will soon get very restless for cash for their labors. The people who give enough of a shit to actually pick-up a camera and go out and commit citizen journalism give enough of a shit to soon become pro’sumer grade in their work. Then pro even. Better plan to pay ’em. Lest you’ll be stuck with freebie, amateur crap that an increasingly media-sophisticated public will soon become very restless with – and reject.
AllVoices, another citizen journalism platform, does pay their contributors. Now which would YOU choose?