New App is Bad News for News Photographers

A new app is trying to turn anyone that has an iPhone into a one person TV News crew that will work for $10 bucks.

You know, kind of like Nexstar?

The app is called Fresco News and wants to turn iPhone users on the street into photojournalists.

The idea is this: if Fresco had enough users out in the world, news outlets would never be lacking for photos of an incident or an event. With its new product, Fresco Dispatch, announced today but going live on June 30, newsrooms can use the power of geolocation sensors to find users of the service nearby when news breaks.

Seventy-one news stations are signed on to participate in Fresco Dispatch. Stations will pay $700 per month for access to the network of Fresco users. The Fresco app will become a completely crowdsourced news source, with photos from news events as they happen around the world. With Dispatch, regular people will also become journalists.

“I had this really interesting meeting with a photo editor at the New York Times,” John H. Meyer, Fresco’s creator and founder, told The Observer in a phone interview. “I was bouncing around this idea with her, ‘what if we could get photos from our own users?’”

Fresco had needed to pivot. It couldn’t afford to pay for photos from newswires, but it needed more users in order to completely crowdsource images of the news. It needed something else to bring people in.

The company hopes that the chance to be part of Fresco Dispatch will do the trick. When news happens, newsrooms that have paid a subscription to Fresco Dispatch will be able to locate users on a map, near the scene in question, and offer them a payment to go to the site, snap a photo or video and turn it over to the newsroom. The images will be made using the Fresco app, which will use geolocation to verify that the user is at the right place.

Photos will be earn at least $10 and videos will at least $40, according to Meyer, who also said that Fresco will keep 20% of commissions. 

Of course, this idea seems ripe for staged and photoshopped pictures and video. How long before a station gets burned with bogus video?

Stay tuned....