Reading Maria Purdy Young's take on UGC (Citizen Journalism: Something for Nothing Won't Last Long) recently I remembered Bild's 2008 intiative to pebbledash basic digital cameras around it's potential audience, to try and boost the photographic network.
According to Bild's picture editor the newspaper now receives something like 4,000 photographs a day, and has led to nearly 1,000 lead stories. (more here, courtesy of Google Translate).
The mind boggles as to how they process all that content pouring in, or whether they respond to everyone who makes a submission (I doubt it's possible) but it really is the whole River of UGC idea that the regional press has been so intrigued by in recent years.
Bild is, of course, huge - 2.2m copies a day - with a vast audience and the amount of photos, tips and more it receives are correspondingly vast; but when Bild and Lidl announced their plans I thought how wonderful it would be if only my company could give free or peppercorn cost Flip cameras to people.
Because like Maria Purdy Young says, something for nothing won't last. In fact, something for nothing shouldn't last - ethically it's a concept we should be uneasy with.
There should be an exchange - it doesn't mean that it always has to be a financial one as people see value and reward in various ways, but an acknowledgement that both sides are benefiting in some way and an exchange has taken place is crucial.