TECHNOLOGY & CONVERGENCE

South Africa: Myvideo to Offer Cash for News

After the worldwide success of video-sharing sites such as Youtube, South African website MyVideo is tapping into citizen journalism to pull in viewers. MyVideo announced this week that it had launched a Breaking News page, and would offer cash to anyone submitting exclusive video news content that would attract people to the site. The company said it would also send out news releases alerting the media of any breaking news items.

CEO Rowan Polovin said MyVideo wanted to encourage would-be journalists to film newsworthy content on a camcorder or cellphone and then MMS or e-mail it. "The media has talked up the rise of the citizen journalist considerably over the past few months and social media is most certainly one of the flavours of the month on communications and marketing sites and blogs. But no one has put their money where their mouth is in terms of encouraging consumer journalism," the company said.

While other websites, such as reporter.co.za do offer cash for content, Polovin said yesterday that the site would pay R1000 to video makers who could provide quality material. "The site is differentiated from other similar sites in that the content is specific to SA," he said, adding that a major part of the fledgling business was to attract advertisers. "Obviously the more traffic we create, the more advertising we get but we also want to become a news content site -- providing fresh news daily."

Jude Mathurine, who heads up the New Media Lab at Rhodes University, said the strategy would still have to prove itself. He was not sure that this 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 said it may make more sense for the site to attract the bizarre, crazy and shocking type content that keeps viewers coming back as opposed to news content, which was typically difficult to create. Asked whether he was worried about the potential legal implications associated with running a "news" site, Polovin said that there would be editors trained in citizen journalism monitoring the site who would have to screen the videos before they went live.

"While we will have to shield ourselves from lawsuits, we will deal with these as they arise, but we would not want this to affect the editorial content of the site," Polovin said, adding that the site would focus on breaking news.

Business Day Johannesburg, April 18, 2007

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