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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whose Photos Are These?

I wanted to write about the phenomenon of social media distributing news we can’t get anywhere else. By that I mean the way YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter were used to see exactly what was happening in Iran a couple of weeks ago, and most recently, the way Twitter photos of the riots in Xinjiang, China turned up on the front page of Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

We live in amazing times, when even the most repressive regime cannot keep news from getting out to the rest of the world (although North Korea may be the single exception to this). The idea that government brutality can be exposed to the world thrills me, and allows me to support people half way across the globe. If everything can be exposed, then governments will have to change the way they do business.

One thing that peaks my interest is the way Western media has appropriated these images. I understand that when people in Iran uploaded their cellphone videos to YouTube they were looking for the broadest exposure possible. And when people sent photos to CNN they were calling for the world to be witness to what they were doing. But I can’t help but be angry when large media outlets (CNN, Reuters, etc.) use these calls from out of the darkness as a way to make more money for them.

I want to know how Reuters took ownership of those photos from China that they sold to the Canadian newspaper. I’ve put in a request for information from Reuters, and if they respond I’ll add it to this post. I hope they do, especially since they recently put their Handbook of Journalism online.

I’m not accusing Reuters of misappropriation, but I wonder exactly how the mainstream media is addressing this new phenomenon. It’s hard enough for traditional media to figure out how to use information when it cannot be independently confirmed, (I’d love to know how that’s being addressed), but since these avenues for information are so immediate and so fast paced are they just allowed to take them as their own?

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Stella! happy to have found your blog.

July 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I see those photos credited to Reuters, I wonder the same thing. Does clicking "Save photo..." on Twitpic entitle them to distribution rights?

July 13, 2009  

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