Reuters and Yahoo to Start 'You Witness News'

Dennis Faas's picture

You never know when a good news story might develop. But you do know that you have your trusty camera phone on hand if it does -- and so do Reuters and Yahoo.

The two companies have teamed up to offer "You Witness News," a news service that allows people to submit their photos and videos, which may end up being published. Selected content will be featured on and Yahoo! News. Reuters also hopes to use some material in print beginning next year. (Source:

The partnership attempts to capitalize on an increasingly popular form of news, known as "citizen journalism." The attacks of September 11th, the Asian tsunami and Michael Richards' racist rants at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles were all caught on tape by amateurs. At the end of the day, viewers do not mind that an amateur shot the video, insists Lloyd Braun, who heads Yahoo's media division.

"People don't say, 'I want to see user-generated content.' They want to see Michael Richards in the club. If that happens to be from a cellphone, they are happy with a cellphone. If it's from a professional photographer, they are happy for that, too," Braun said. (Source:

Then again, receiving content from outside sources provides some additional challenges. Before any content is used on or Yahoo! News, photo editors at Reuters will inspect the photos and videos to ensure that the images have not been retouched.

This task can prove to be quite difficult. Last summer, a blogger detected that two of Reuters' photographs of the conflict in Lebanon had been altered. Reuters immediately stopped using the freelance photographer and eliminated his past work from its archive. The company is now in the process of trying to develop a software program that will detect altered images. (Source:

Although users will not be paid if their content is featured on "You Witness News," appearing on or Yahoo! News isn't too shabby. You may want to keep that camera phone within arm's reach from now on.

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