DEMOTIX: How Corbis Failed the Photojournalist


I recently posted my first article to Demotix to see how it all worked out. Sad to say, it's not going to win you any fans or money. The story was approved on the Demotix website and I was very disappointed with the results on how news is sold to publishers and news organisations. Demotix says that your news content is pushed out immediately to all news publishers once it is approved for circulation but nothing was said about keeping the news from the prying eyes of the world.

Content is Freely Available to Everyone

A news story in my case was made up of text content and picture content. The content in question was free to view to just anyone and there was even sharing buttons for Facebook and Twitter! WTF?
I was given the impression that Demotix only sold these items to verified News organisations, wire services, etc. Apparently not! You can see the number of views within your published story and Demotix actively encourages you to spread the word to get more hits. Pictures are protected with a watermark but it won't take much for someone with Photoshop to remove it. Content is King so they say but here, it is treated like a five dollar whore.

Limit Content Exposure for best Results

Content, regardless if it is pictures or text should not be let out into the wild. Demotix should have done was limited the views on the submitted stories to genuine news agencies and publishers. A story summary could be used as a lead-in to the content and if they wish to read more, News Publishers should get the proper accreditation. News publishers are not going to pay for a story as long as it is out everywhere on the Internet with generated 'likes' on Facebook shares. Facebook shares and likes are not going to earn you money. It works in the opposite manner by devaluing the content.

Profit Sharing on Page Views

Starting January 2014, Demotix will split the advertising revenue with you for every page views you get on their site. WTF? How many people would subscribe to reading the news on Demotix is beyond me but it certainly is not a pay to use website. There is no pay wall and the feed goes out to the world for free. Anyone can carry a link to that feed.

As far as it goes, earning money on page views isn't going to cut it unless you're posting porn links which in turn generates millions of hits. You'd be lucky to get $10 dollars for all your effort to bring one story to the table and yes, that fee isn't going to pay for your transport cost. Even a horse cost more to maintain in fresh oats.

What Corbis can do for You?

Corbis is the big name behind Demotix. That said it should be pretty reputable but the way in which they treat your content is just not going to cut it for you. Demotix believes that citizen journalism is going to change the way news is covered around the world but don't leave your day job for it.

It is true that you don't need a lot to be a photojournalist for Demotix. The mobile app for both Android and iOS gives you the freedom to post from anywhere so you can work whenever you want.
Demotix is probably a good stepping stone towards a paying job in journalism and not the other way round. Content which are more text heavy—meaning with interviews and quotes used to make the story, are seriously not worth your time to cover. Text is not protected under Demotix and anyone can copy and paste that story onto their news clip without ever attributing it to you or Demotix. News items should have an international flavor to be featured, so unless you live in a city which has an international focus chances are your don't have a story worthy enough to make the news. That said, should you ever take a stab at this, make sure you have captured the attention of the masses with a damn good collection of stories with the ultimate intention of landing you a full time paying job somewhere else.