Yahoo’s choice of Mr Paparazzi as the best UK entertainment website in its 2006 Finds awards suggests there is a way to make money out of “citizen journalism” or whatever you choose to call it.
The site is a spin-off from the Big Pictures business of Darryn Lyons who got a lot of free publicity from the BBC’s Pararazzi documentary series. The neat money-making touch is to offer would-be celeb snappers a “where are the hot subjects” text message service. They promise to send not more than 20 updates at 25p each in a week.
That adds up to Â£260 a year which might just be better business than actually flogging the pix.
The changing headline on the home page urges visitors to, “Make loads of money from your celebrity snaps.” A rotating gallery of pictures are flashed “sold for” at sums ranging from Â£8,000 to Â£200.
Pictures can be submitted direct from mobile phones or by email. There is a warning: “REMEMBER, YOU AGREE AND UNDERTAKE THAT YOU WILL NOT SUBMIT TO US ANY MEDIA THAT ABUSES OR INVADES ANOTHER PERSONâ€™S PRIVACY, CAUSES ANNOYANCE, INCONVENIENCE OR NEEDLESS ANXIETY, IS UNLAWFUL OR WHICH GIVES RISE TO CIVIL OR CRIMINAL LIABILITY OR IS OBSCENE, OFFENSIVE, HATEFUL OR INFLAMMATORY IN ANY WAY.”
There is a sister site in the US but that does not offer the mobile phone service.
According to a report in The British Journal of Photography when Mr Paparazzi was launched in April last year, those who submit pictures that are sold can expect 50% of the earnings.
It is legal and it is encouraging many more people to be involved in journalism. So why do I find this concept distasteful? Probably because I am a po-faced grumpy old man who finds Civil Engineer more engaging than Heat.
And there is a worry that more people with camera phones harassing celebs will eventually lead to more restrictive privacy laws which will make it harder to do the stories that I think matter.
There are seven category winners in the Yahoo awards and visitors to the site are being asked to vote for “The People’s Choice” from a list which also includes the short-listed sites.