Breaking News: Crowdsourcing vs Professional Photography
Crowdsourcing is a big business, both literally and geographically, with the potential for millions of people to be involved in creating content at the touch of a button. However, as much as crowdsourced material is financially beneficial to publishers, does that mean the skills and knowledge of the professional news photographer is no longer needed?
Crowdsourcing is the process of gathering content, which for the purposes of this article will refer to visual content, from a crowd of people. Crowdsourcing is beneficial in the sense that it produces a mass of content from which to choose from at little to no cost. With such a large influx of content there will likely be a number of high quality images to choose from, although you may have to fish through a load of not so great content in order to find it!
Crowdsourced material is particularly successful if there is a breaking news event and someone nearby takes a snap. This has the potential to go viral quicker than the newspapers would be able to send their own photographer to the event, let alone get the picture and publish it. So crowdsourced material can add a more real-time quality to an image, but the quality and feeling that would be captured by professional photographers will likely be absent.
Photographers or photojournalists regularly deal with breaking news stories, together with the hard-earned ability to tell these stories through pictures. News photographers have the eye and experience to capture that compelling shot at the right time and are able to visually enhance the story. But with constant demand for news stories and visual media on a daily basis, is it possible for professional photographers to cover the vast amount of stories that consumers demand without aid?
With online media tabloids offering online subscriptions and news apps, the online presence of news media is bigger than ever and, due to its nature, needs to be constantly updated and full of content. The Daily Mail, for example, receives 2.3 million unique users daily — that’s just in the UK — with a huge 56.1 million worldwide visitors monthly. That’s a lot of content being consumed from just one publisher!
As consumers’ desire for more content has increased, it could be that the source of images used in news articles has become less important to them. Maybe a mixture of the two is both good and possible necessary? Although crowdsourced photographs will never rival the quality or polish of a professional photograph, the rawness and sense of immediacy that comes with crowdsourced images is just as relatable and draws people in just as easily.
Scoopshooter: Alanah Massey
In time, will breaking news stories will be covered purely by crowdsourced material? Whilst professional photographers may be needed more for events or important news stories that can really showcase their skill and empathy? As long as we can still have images to support our stories and showcase events, does there need to be an issue about where the image came from? A picture tells a thousand words after all.
Let us know what you think.