MyVideo wants your news

18 April 2007

South African social networking site MyVideo is venturing into citizen journalism, with the website offering users R1 000 for submitting “compelling, relevant and exclusive video news content”.

The website has started accepting videos made using either video camcorders or cellphone technology since Monday, with editors deciding which videos are good enough for the financial reward.

Editors will review each video based on several criteria, the most important of which are exclusive and responsible newsworthiness, together with sufficient video and audio quality.

“MyVideo was set up to stimulate the exchange of content and views – and we’ve been happy with some of the content so far, especially the controversial FNB anti-crime advertising and the local Cape Town Flashmob activities,” MyVideo chief executive Rowan Polovin said in a statement.

“But we want to encourage actively breaking news as it happens. The better cellphones now make that a reality, as the quality of the content is now good enough to MMS or e-mail to us direct,” Polovin said. “So we think a prize will stimulate guerrilla journos to send content in.”

According to the company, much has been made of citizen journalists in the past, but no one has provided any financial incentive to encourage it – until now.

Submitted clips will be posted on the site once they have been evaluated, while the selected clip will be placed under the category “breaking news”.

“We are continually striving to be both innovative and responsible with the services we offer to our subscribers,” Polovin said. “With these new features we are not only showcasing MyVideo but also South Africa.”

Jude Mathurine, head of the New Media Lab at Rhodes University, told Business Day on Tuesday that the strategy would sill have to prove itself, as he was not sure it was the best way to attract user-generated content.

“If you look at some of the news sites such as Sunday Times and Mail & Guardian that are already attracting user-generated content, it would be difficult for MyVideo to compete,” he said.

He further told the paper that it might make more sense for the site to attract the bizarre, crazy and shocking type of content that keeps viewers coming back for more, as opposed to news content that was typically difficult to create.

Polovin told Business Day that the company would steer clear of the legal implications of running a news site by having trained editors screen all submitted content before it is made live.

SAinfo reporter

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