Flip cameras turn everbody into paparazzi

Jeff Jarvis put up this post yes­ter­day about a German online tabloid called Bild. The edi­tor of the mag­a­zine saw Jarvis with a Flip at a con­fer­ence and had to have one. He dis­patched his staff mem­bers to the U.S. to buy some of the cam­eras, and the edi­tor even­tu­ally con­tracted with another cam­era com­pany to cre­ate a Bild-branded cam­era and sold 21,000 of them to peo­ple in Germany. The result:

Note well that the soft­ware on the cam­era defaults to send­ing video to Bild. So now the paper has thou­sands of cam­era­men all over Germany.

For the past few years, edi­tors of mine have been try­ing, with­out real oomph or pas­sion, to get me and my col­leagues to use video, to think in terms of using video on sto­ries as well as text. It’s a new mul­ti­me­dia age, they chant, and we’ve got to have video.

Well, we don’t, actu­ally, have to have video. It’s neat, but it needs to be there for a rea­son. However, that’s a reporter talk­ing. I think that putting cam­eras in the hands of the pub­lic and let­ting them go crazy, while it will have loads of pri­vacy issues, could be an inter­est­ing first step in cre­at­ing a new sys­tem of crowd­sourced jour­nal­ism, where jour­nal­ists — in addi­tion to what they nor­mally do — sort through the raw footage and infor­ma­tion sent in from the pub­lic to see if any of it is news.

Could be cool. Could be Big Brother knock­ing. Not sure yet, but it’s worth a try.

Edit — Interestingly, in another post, Jarvis says that CUNY’s jour­nal­ism pro­gram now teaches all media as if they were one, teach­ing stu­dents to tell sto­ries in print, audio, video and images. Neat. Makes me want to enroll.