CTV, TQS move to sucker-generated content

CTV has launched a new website to collect sucker-generated content, err, I mean “citizen journalism” called my.ctvnews.ca. Because their professional journalists are doing their jobs with the insight of a 15-year-old recounting gossip, it’s expected that this new citizen-generated content will provide free material for CTV to make advertising money off of.

People are encouraged to submit their own content to the website, and some have (there’s even a video from that helicopter crash last month).

But beware, doing so means you agree to their terms of service, which include:

  • By submitting your Content, for good and valuable consideration, the sufficiency and receipt of which you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to CTV Television Inc. and its affiliates and agents and each of their assigns and successors (collectively, “CTV”), a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to televise, broadcast, transmit, exploit, use, edit, reproduce, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, communicate, publicly display and perform, distribute and create compilations and derivative works from, such Content, or any portion thereof, in any manner, media or technology, including, but not limited to all forms of television, display screens, wireless and online technology, now known or later developed, without payment or any other compensation to you or any third party. (That’s all one sentence, by the way, and it means that CTV could develop the next hit comedy series based on an idea or video you submitted, and they wouldn’t have to pay you a dime or even ask your permission. They could also sell your content to others and not have to give you a cut)
  • You warrant that all “moral rights” in such materials have been waived. (This means they’re not obliged to credit you or keep the substance of your work intact)
  • If your photo or video is accepted, CTV will endeavour (but is not obliged) to publish your name alongside it.
  • In turn you’d have to accept an entirely different terms of service, which include:
    • You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless each of CTVglobemedia, its affiliates and licensors and each of their respective officers, directors, employees and agents, including all third parties mentioned on a CTVglobemedia Site, from and against any and all claims, actions or demands, including without limitation reasonable legal and accounting fees (That means if anyone sues CTV about something related to something you’ve submitted, you agree to pay their lawyers)
    • UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL ANY DISCLOSURE OF ANY IDEA AND/OR SUGGESTION OR RELATED MATERIAL TO CTVglobemedia BE SUBJECT TO ANY OBLIGATION OF CONFIDENTIALITY OR EXPECTATION OF COMPENSATION. (So if you have evidence that the prime minister is stealing cash and eating babies, they can broadcast your identity to the world.)
    • Oh, and they can change those terms without notice.
    • And if they violate what little rights you have left in this agreement, you agree not to sue. Instead, you sit with an arbitrator … in Toronto. At your own expense, of course.

And though the site advises people to “stay safe” and “don’t endanger yourself,” of the five videos listed on the page, three were of fires and two were of tornadoes. The implication clearly is that the closer you get to a disaster in progress, the more likely your video is going to be accepted and you’ll be famous.

But hey, all this is a small price to pay in exchange for … uhh … nothing.

At TQS, the image is much clearer. They’re literally replacing professional journalists with suckers willing to work for free. This hasn’t escaped the eye of some local Web 2.0 enthusiasts like Michel Dumais and Mario Asselin, who point out that this isn’t a magic bullet and citizens cannot replace professionals.

The big problem is that big media is putting up a giant, blank canvas with their Web 2.0 projects. There’s no guidance (beyond tip sheets for how to shoot acceptable video), no communication or feedback, and terms of use policies that are downright insulting, if not outright illegal. Everyone is doing this (including the people I work for), because they don’t have to spend any money on it, and they look at Web 2.0 and think they can do that too.

I looked at the issue in March, where Evan Prodromou made the point that successful Web 2.0 sites are about communities, and provide services that help them. They don’t see users as things to exploit.

But exploitation will continue so long as some people are motivated solely by that “look, I’m on the news!” and skip over terms of service that demand everything short of a first-born child with nothing in return.

I don’t want that motivation to disappear entirely (if it did, professional journalists wouldn’t be able to do their jobs anymore), but there should be some happy medium where news organizations don’t rely exclusively on amateurs willing to produce crap for free.

At what point will users rise up and demand rights in exchange for their free content?

4 thoughts on “CTV, TQS move to sucker-generated content

  1. BruB

    It is exploitation but with the web and the now 30 seconds of fame that it promises, you will always have suckers for that type of “journalism” but CNN as been doing it for a bout a year now with it’s iReport.

    Does it make better television, no, but keep in mind that for every sucker that send a video, 20 others will look at it. it’s called the youtube generation.

  2. DAVE ID

    Your contempt for viewer generated news is warranted. Your contempt of the viewer/reader (the bread and butter of your business) is deplorable. You should turn your contempt towards your masters who are the ones enabling this crowdsourcing crap instead of sticking to their guns of good journalism (though I have seen little of that in the past few years). This is like blaming the Indians for having jobs in India that have been outsourced by North American companies. Blame the companies who outsource, not the Indian dude who wants a good paying job.

  3. Michel Dumais

    No, no, no, no! Please Faguy, don’t ever call me a Web 2.0 enthusiast. I’m not a «bullshiteux marketeux». ;-) Skeptical, yup. Critical, yup. But no enthusiast.

  4. Mario Asselin

    So Michel, if I am «enthusiast»… I expose myself to be «bullshiteux»?

    How can I say that I believe in «Web 2.0» (Web participatif) for more networking and rich communities without selling my soul to evil?


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