In those heady days when “citizen journalism” was new and tantalising, it seemed likely, if not yet entirely obvious, that, despite a rash of start-ups forming around the idea, it would be the existing, larger news orgs best placed to take advantage. Now Kyle MacRae, who sold his citizen photo agency site to Getty Images (NYSE: GYI) in 2007, is acknowledging, too – there’s no place for the smaller sites, not even the intermediaries like the one he started.
“I understand Getty’s move completely: fundamentally, the Scoopt model doesn’t work,” MacRae wrote on Journalism.co.uk, after Getty last week announced it’s shutting down the site. “While it’s a no-brainer to say that, whenever news breaks there’s likely to be a punter with a cameraphone on the scene before a pro, the chances of that punter already being a member of your agency, or even having heard of it, are vanishingly small.” What’s more: “(The) instinct as a witness to an extraordinary event (is) to share (a) photo, not sell it.”
Not only is that a frank admission as to the business model MacRae founded in 2005; it would also be a warning to anyone thinking of trying same. We’d be tempted to call out Mr Paparazzi on the same failing, except the majority of that brand is already taken up by a professional photo wire business. Stats aren’t available on how many pictures Scoopt managed to sell or how much money it made for contributors.