Demotix, the London-based citizen journalism site, has introduced video to its popular photo-centric site.Today, one year-old
Demotix, the winner of a Media Guardian Innovation Award, has placed its crowd-sourced photos on the front pages of traditional media organizations from Le Monde to the New York Times to BBC News Online. Although there have always been articles as well, it is the photostream that has proven to be Demotix's bread and butter. Video, like photos, may prove capable of speaking across more borders than words.
With an emphasis on both citizen-reporter safety and remuneration, Demotix started out very grass-roots, but quickly moved into the corridors of media power. CEO Turi Munthe was a policy analyst with a high media profile prior to launching the company. His partner, COO Jonathan Tepper, worked in finance at SAC Capital, Lehman Brothers and Bank of America prior to throwing in his lot with Munthe. From the outset the idea was to both honor the individual contributor and to leverage their past lives to raise the profile of this new "street wire" as they called it.
Munthe said the site now features 3,000 active photo-contributors in 190 countries and a photostream of 200,000 images.
Demotix's first video is an interview Munthe did with Kazakh journalist Ekaterina Belyaeva of Vzglad Newspaper in Almaty. The two attended "a monster regime-backed fluff fest: the Eurasia Media Forum."
"I almost had a fist-fight with the Iranian Ambassador there," Munthe told us. (Horseshoes and hand-grenades, Turi.)
In keeping with its heightened profile and success, Demotix has also launched a new look, more saturated and uptown. It looks like a Web version of that moment when a young turk gets made partner and winds up on Savile Row for his first bespoke suit. A window-pane preview shows the latest video, surrounded by feature stories, and postage-stamp rows below are broken out into geographic sections. All in all, a fairly handsome attempt. Citizen journalists in areas both nearby and far-flung deserve to feel like they're not begging at the back door.