36 Comments

Summary:

News agencies that want to cover events happening in restricted parts of the world have had few options for licensing high-quality content. Cont3nt.com is trying to solve that problem, with a platform to discover and license videos shot by local professionals.

cont3nt

News agencies that want to cover events happening in restricted parts of the world have had few options for licensing high-quality content. But with the rise of citizen journalism and the spread of viral video during the Arab Spring, a startup called Cont3nt.com is creating a way for publishers to discover and license videos shot by professionals in parts of the world that are difficult to cover.

Cont3nt founder and CEO Anton Gelman calls the marketplace “an e-commerce platform for journalism,” enabling videographers and photographers to license their content to news agencies by giving them full control of the transaction. Journalists can specify 30-, 60- or 90-day exclusive or non-exclusive licenses to their content, with Cont3nt.com handling all billing and order fulfillment.

One big advantage of the Cont3nt platform is that it gives more money back to the content provider. While other marketplaces command as much as 50 or 60 percent of the license fee for content, Cont3nt takes a maximum of 5 percent per transaction. That’ll be key as it hopes to recruit more professional and semi-pro video journalists.

The goal is to bring to light video that might not have been seen, and to help monetize content that would have otherwise ended up on YouTube. While some news agencies have used YouTube footage in their reports, it’s often difficult to verify the accuracy of the reporting and the source of the content.

To that end, Cont3nt currently has about 170 publishers tapped into its platform, and about 15,000 journalists signed up from around the world. It’s focusing specifically on international markets like Sudan, Syria, Libya and Russia. As a result, much of its work has been around ensuring that journalists on the platform provide high-quality content.

“It’s very difficult to verify a piece of content,” Gelman told me in a phone interview. So Cont3nt works to verify and create a trusting relationship with the person delivering the content. To do so, the startup has been searching for good content online and trying to contact journalists directly, and has been recruiting media organizers who work in the regions it’s targeting. Once signed up, they can create media profiles and establish credibility as their content is licensed by major publishers.

All that said, there’s really only one major requirement for producers who wish to license their video on Cont3nt, according to Gelman: “It has to be true, it has to be good and it has to be yours.”

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  1. I am an amateur Photographer (aspiring to go Pro). Would this platform work for me?

    1. This is Anton, the CEO of Cont3nt.com – the answer to your question is yes, absolutely.

      If you are an amateur or semi-pro, we allow you to establish and grow your reputation so that larger media outlets will trust you and work with you. We give you the tools to pitch them or sell to them, and we make it easy for them to find you.

      That said, in the end, it’s all about the content. If what you are shooting is great, they will be interested even if you are an amateur. Our goal is to help connect you with your market.

      Sign up for the Beta and we’ll get you in.

      Best,
      Anton

  2. you may try tvinx also. Complete location-based citizen journalism from every corner worldwide

    1. tvinx does not appear to offer an exchange between content providers and media companies, and I don’t see that it builds trusted business relationships (not clear how cont3nt is doing this either. That seems to be the intent of cont3nt.com.

      1. Tvinx looks like a great site. Cont3nt.com is a bit different.

        We are not a citizen journalism reporting site, rather our mission is to enable current & aspiring photo/video journalists to create trusted connections with media companies and allow them to sell their work in real-time.

        If you are interested, feel free to contact us on the site, or sign up for the Beta.

        Best,
        Anton (CEO, Cont3nt.com)

  3. Wow, this sounds really interesting. I’ve checked out the website and I would really like to become part of the community. Any tips for new users?

    1. Mike,
      All you need to do is fill in your media info to apply for the Beta. Once you are approved, you will be able to create a full Media Reputation, build your credibility and connect with media companies to distribute or sell your work.

      The best tip I can give is to create as complete a profile as possible so that media companies are interested in working with you – we’ll be happy to help you do that.

      Best,
      Anton

  4. I’m part of a group of filmmakers that sources meet-the-athletes style sports content in LA and Vegas, primarily prize fighters. Is there a demand for this type of content on cont3nt?

    1. Rene,
      The short answer is, yes, but it depends on the type of content.

      It sounds like you are doing more documentary style films. Usually long-form features are more difficult to sell than short-form because they require a “channel” to buy them and usually one that can afford to pay you for high-quality work. This requires a large commitment, and entirely depends on how aligned your content is with the channel’s lineup. That said, it is definitely doable, you just have to hustle more.

      One technique that many long-form creators are taking, is to make some short-form clips from your film and use them to promote the feature. You distribute either for free or for a small cost to multiple media outlets, and use them to promote your longer feature.

      So if you have a feature about e.g. “Mayweather behind-the-scenes” – you can provide a 1-3min clip of an interview to distribute to every local Las Vegas paper as well as every paper and magazine that covers boxing, with a link-back to the full feature.

      If you have a community of film-makers, you can organize them into a group and make a one-stop-shop for media outlets to visit if they want boxing clips and help each other market your work.

      Sing up for the Beta if you’re interested and we can get that going for you.

      Best,
      Anton (CEO, Cont3nt.com)

  5. Mauricio de Chiaro Friday, February 24, 2012

    You may want to check Youca.st, a platform that does exactly that: markets online content to media groups monetizing content providers.

    1. That sounds like a great platform as well. Cont3nt.com is a bit different in that it is not as much about citizen journalism/mobile-phone videos and marketing (which is also a great approach) but a real-time e-commerce platform for pro and semi-pro media to do business.

      Our purpose is to allow content creators to distribute/sell their story directly to their chosen media outlets and control every element of the transaction in that sale. In particularly story-packages that include high-def video and photo.

  6. Looks like a cool concept. Would be curious to know what happens if a repressive regime in one of the hotspot countries decides to target a professional videographer that has posted and monetized unflattering footage. Professional media have some coverage from their news organizations. Would be nice if this protection were passed down to the semi-pros.

    1. Chris,
      We’ve given this matter a lot of thought.

      As you can imagine, reporting in repressive regimes is always difficult. There are two main problems when trying to get your content out: in order to be trusted by media companies they usually need to know who you are, and in order to get paid, you must submit specific identifying information; this information makes it more likely to be targeted by the regime.

      But there are a few things you can do in our system to try and stay safe (in addition to great encryption technologies like Tor, VPNs, etc..; as well as sympathetic non-profits and journalists that may help) –

      First, when dealing with closed regimes, you can use an alias instead of your real identity. Your anonymity will help keep you safe, but will affect your credibility since your credentials can’t be verified. That said, you can build a reputation based on the quality of your content that will get media companies to trust your work. They will often take that chance.

      Second, for payment. Payment information is very identifiable (we need to know who to pay and where) so this is often a stumbling block. While we can’t beat government monitoring of your bank account, we can offer an alternative (something we’ll be rolling out soon) – the payment for your work can go to a verified non-profit selected by you, that supports your cause. While this is not a fix-all, at least the money goes to your cause.

      In the future, we will be tackling these issues, because this is a very real problem that needs to be addressed and any recommendations are very welcome. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions.

      Sincerely,
      Anton
      (CEO, Cont3nt.com)

  7. Do you work with cartoonists, too? Or mainly traditional film/photography/written medias. :)

    1. While we focus on photo and video, there is no reason why you couldn’t sell cartoons – there are definitely buyers for them if you know how to market. Would be great to see how well it works :-D

  8. A frictionless marketplace where professional photo and video journalists can find buyers of their content?

    Makes a *LOT* of sense. How is it that this had not already been created?

    1. It was a bit shocking to us as well – media companies buy and sell content every day, but it’s all based on personal connections and offline relationships – we take those relationships, put them online, and allow them to efficiently scale.

      On top of that the technology of the past two years has made a model like this possible by slashing the costs of working with video and large files.

  9. This is really fantastic concept, and really bridges a gap in the changing landscape of media journalism industry.

  10. I’m thinking of this in regards to “seen in Beverley hills” if it can be applied in that manner.

    1. While I am not sure of the exact site you’re talking about – entertainment and paparazzi style content is incredibly valuable at the right time to the right buyer. Usually entertainment reporters have long established connections for selling their content to publications.

      Cont3nt.com allows anyone to try and sell their photo and video to People, US Weekly, or whoever you think would pay for your content. If this is the kind of stuff you do, sign up for the Beta and we can help you get it out.

  11. The idea of verifying the person, and not so much the individual pieces of content, seems to hold with how journalism and freelance is normally done. But how can you verify someone in a real way in the absence of an established personal/professional relationship?

    1. You’ve put your finger on the issue (can’t help but make the long response) – the reason media relationships are made through personal connections is that it’s very difficult to verify a piece of content (e.g. did a video come from the Lebanon, Sirya or Gaza) and while reasonable efforts are made in that regard, a media company is really deciding whether to trust the submitter. One false report will ruin a journalists reputation – that’s why it’s so valued and so trusted.

      So media has historically needed personal connections to establish relationships – but of course that’s very limiting – a journalist that has worked with the BBC for 20yrs will need to re-establish the trust relationship if he wants to sell to the Washington Post and this is very difficult, and practically impossible in a real-time news cycle.

      But the solutions for the “trust problem” have parallels all over the web e.g. you can buy a house or car on ebay with a large amount of security, without having ever met the seller – this is because of a user’s established reputation.

      To establish trust, we enable a user to establish their Media Reputation – a deeply searchable online profile where they can showcase their portfolio, experience and credentials – we then allow them to get it “verified”.

      We will actually conduct a check of the credentials (if they want us to), we do not say whether the work is good or bad, but we verify that if a user claims to have worked for the AP for 20yrs – he has in fact done that. And of course a user can be referred by other credible users, and get feedback for all the work he sells.

      Now when a media company sees that the user has a strong reputation, he has been verified, and CNN trusts him – that means others can as well.

      And for those trying to break into the industry – a notoriously difficult challenge – the Media Reputation allows them to build their reputation so that they can move into the big leagues based on the quality of their work and the references they gather as they sell it – all without ever having met.

      1. Sorry for the long response there, that one got away from me :-D

  12. Stavros Hilaris Saturday, February 25, 2012

    This seems like a great example of a new platform/service filling a marketplace need

  13. Awesome concept. With news organizations cutting dedicated correspondents at the time when we need direct reporting more than ever, this seems like a very logical next step in the evolution of reporting.

    1. Absolutely, even now when news organizations set up an international “bureau” it is usually 1 to 3 people – not nearly enough to cover their region.

      If they would just leverage the 1 million freelancers and 20-40 million new media semi-pros out there – it will change the game.

  14. Esmail Chitalwala Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Sounds like a great concept that can bridge content providers to media outlets. Would you have any advice for amateur or would be journalists as to the the quality of their content to make it more likely to be noticed by media companies?

    1. Breaking into the media industry is a notoriously difficult challenge, but we make it much easier – I can recommend 3 things –

      1. Shoot great content – enough said
      2. Shoot with a buyer in mind – if it’s local news, make the angle one that a local station/paper will want, if national/global – find the angle that they will need. Try to get in touch before-hand to see if there is anything they need.
      3. Build a kick-ass Media Reputation and get it verified so they can trust you.

      Good luck!

  15. I’ve been producing broadcast quality news video for around 15 years, and i’m very comfortable now with the FTP thing. But whenever I source a great story, the networks my country send my video all over the world. Does your system have some type of control so I don’t get cheated out of my hard earned work. I’m sick of being ripped off.

    1. This is a huge underlying problem for freelancers – in breaking news, there is not usually time for a written agreement – and media companies will often re-run/re-distribute/and sometimes re-sell content without permission.

      This is not done maliciously (and they are very concerned about resulting law suits) but without a written license agreement – the terms are often broken and the little guy usually loses money.

      With Cont3nt.com both sides *must* agree to a license (either ours, theirs, or your own) prior to a sale and the licensing is attached to all the story packages.

      And since the transactions are all digital (unlike most link trucks/satellite connections) – there is complete control over downloads and user permissions, so others can’t record from the broadcast feed.

  16. Esmail Chitalwala Saturday, February 25, 2012

    I think it is a great way to bridge the gap between content creators and media outlets that purchase these. Do you have any advice pertaining to the formatting of content to increase it’s visibility with media outlets?

    1. I don’t see anything on cont3nt.com. is this an actual company?

      1. Hi Daniel – you may have mistyped the address – try again at http://cont3nt.com

  17. Sounds interesting but the website doesn’t seem like much more than a brochure. It’s a find idea but is that all??

    1. Hi Chris, as the article mentioned, we are in the midst of launching to the public and are currently in closed Beta on boarding our users. If you’d like to join, feel free to sign up and we’ll get you in, or if you have any particular questions, I’d be happy to answer.

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