The use of user generated content by traditional news organisations is growing as digital media becomes dominant in people’s lives, as does the culture of sharing it online on sites like flickr, twitpic and youtube. A good example of this was last week’s dust storms on the east coast of Australia, when news sites were able to harvest content quickly from an incredibly diverse range of locations. As a rule I think that, given proper attribution, this is a good thing, however what about when a news organisation simply re-packages another site’s content en masse?
The Daily Telegraph’s web site has a number of photo galleries linked from the front page, two that caught my attention were World’s most glorious failures and Wierd shoppers at Walmart because they sounded similar to the type of thing you’d expect to find at failblog.org or peopleofwalmart.com. Turns out, that’s because it’s not just similar, it’s the same stuff, repackaged and served up as part of the Daily Telegraph’s website, some of it properly attributed, some not. Ironically, on each of the galleries are links to del.icio.us, digg and other social bookmarking sites which don’t actually point to the photo that you are looking at, but the Daily Telegraph’s front page.
By serving the photos up in this fashion News Limited gets to keep their readers from going to an external site, but is it an ethical way to use someone else’s content?