Getty Images Closes Scoopt

Posted on 2/4/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Citizen journalism Web site Scoopt will not make it to its fourth birthday. Established by Scottish duo Kyle and Jill MacRae in July 2005, Scoopt became Getty Images’ property in March 2007 and will cease to exist March 2009.

In an email to Scoopt members, Getty Images said it has decided to close the business: “We remain convinced that there is a demand for this kind of material as part of an editorial product, but for the moment are choosing to focus our energies within Getty Images on our core products in news, sport and entertainment.” The Web site will stop accepting and licensing images this Friday and will completely shutter on March 6.

Some of the Scoopt content also appeared on This may continue for images deemed to have long-term value by Getty editors. Though all such content will be taken down this week, Getty may offer individual photographers new contracts to accommodate the continued marketing of their images.

In 2007, when Getty purchased Scoopt for an undisclosed sum—rumored to be insignificant, compared to the company’s stock-industry acquisitions—and Agence France Presse made an investment in Citizenside, citizen journalism seemed to have hit the majors. Getty Images said it wanted to augment its editorial content; AFP chairman Pierre Louette described the investment as “a purely commercial and technical experiment in the Web 2.0 field, to help our clients, mainly in the media field.”

The experiment is over for Getty—and, in the opinion of most pundits, largely over for the citizen-journalism niche as a whole. Alexa Internet and other online traffic-tracking services, while not entirely accurate in that they depend on their pool of users to gather data, all show citizen-journalism Web sites failing to attract significant user volumes.

Amateur snappers who want their newsworthy images seen are choosing non-commercial venues. Major news organizations, including Fox and CNN, now run user-generated Web sites, though Flickr remains the destination of choice for users to share photographs of newsworthy events—such as images of last month’s U.S. Airways Flight 1549 crash and rescue in the Hudson River. Scoopt had tried and failed to work out an arrangement with Flickr, though its parent company ultimately succeeded in a non-journalism area of the photo business.

The timing of Scoopt’s closing in unsurprising, given the dismal states of the advertising and publishing industries and the broader economic environment of the last several months. While citizen snapshots will continue to attract eyeballs, it appears that they cannot be monetized based on the traditional editorial-image model—at least thus far. Getty cuts its losses, and all eyes remain on the loudest newcomer Demotix.

Those interested in Scoopt founder Kyle MacRae can find him having a very public midlife crisis online, following his departure from the position of director of citizen news at Getty Images roughly a year ago.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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