Africa to get citizen photojournalism

AfricaA Dutch citizen photojournalism service is to bring the participatory reporting model to Africa this year.

Launched in October, Skoeps takes current affairs mobile phone videos and photographs from eyewitness snappers via MMS or the web, packaging them in an online media player.

Claiming a million monthly page views, the site sells the highest-quality captures to mainstream print and broadcast media partners – and is now eyeing international expansion.

“We will launch a pilot in four African countries later this spring,” Skoeps vice-president Hidde Kross told, adding the project was a joint venture with other partners.

“We have found great partners in Belgium and Germany, where we plan to start this summer. In other countries, including
the UK, we have started talks with relevant companies and, of course, we’re open to anyone who wants to know more about it.”

Mr Kross would not reveal the destinations in the Africa roadmap, though a report from last week’s Blogonomics event in Holland suggested Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa might be in the frame.

Last year, a South African newspaper launched, “a news website written entirely by its readers”.

Skoeps is a joint venture of the Talpa TV network and PCM, which publishes newspapers including de Volkskrant, and sells an average one submission to its news agency, print, broadcast and online every day, with a 50-50 split for reporters earning them between 50 and 500 euros.

So far, users have submitted on-the-street politician interviews, extreme weather reports, footage of blazing buildings and video from concerts and community events. Bandwidth costs are covered by Vodafone while Nokia issues top-rated reporters with camera-phones. The site even invites members to cover breaking news and diary events.

“We send them an agenda by mail, so they can prepare for the next days, and in case of breaking news, we alert them – of course, with a safety-first warning,” Mr Kross said.