AP Joins Partner in New ‘Citizen Journalist’ Effort

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The Associated Press and NowPublic.com said Friday they had agreed to a partnership to let AP to use photographs, video and news from “citizen journalists” in its newsgathering operation.

NowPublic.com, a Vancouver, Canada-based startup, posts citizens’ images and news accounts on its Web site, along with links to mainstream news organizations.

The company is part of a growing citizen-journalism movement, comprised of blogs and news sites that rely on small armies of amateur reporters and eyewitnesses with cell phone cameras to deliver news online.

The AP said that in the first phase of the partnership, news and photo editors on its national news desks in New York will have the option of using selected content from NowPublic.com to supplement the work of AP journalists.

AP editors will work with NowPublic.com staff and contributors to ensure the content is real and accurate, said Jim Kennedy, AP’s vice president and director of strategic planning.

“We’re not just going to take content directly from the contributors and put it on the wire,” he said. “We’re going to edit and verify it just like we would any other contribution.”

He added that while many details of the partnership are still being worked out, the AP may use certain NowPublic.com contributors to help gather news on “anything from a major storm to even some Iraq angle.”

NowPublic.com members will be compensated and, depending on the nature of their contributions, credited for their work, Kennedy said. He declined to disclose specific financial details of the agreement.

“When ordinary people witness extraordinary things, we have access to them,” said Leonard Brody, NowPublic.com’s chief executive officer. He said the site carries contributions from 60,000 people in 140 countries.

Lou Ferrara, AP’s deputy managing editor for multimedia, said the news cooperative has been trying to figure out how to take advantage of citizen journalism for some time.

A number of news organizations, including the BBC, MSNBC and CNN, have begun using citizen photos and video in recent years. Gannett Co., the nation’s largest newspaper company, said it plans to use information from bloggers and other non-journalists to create stories.

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