Instead of sending a photographer out to shoot a news event, why not ask a reader who happens to be on the scene to take the pictures with their smartphone and email them to the newsroom? That’s the idea behind a new photojournalism application called TapIn.

TapIn is the product of a Silicon Valley startup called Tackable whose founders include Luke Stangel, formerly a reporter with the Palo Alto Daily News and KLIV 1590.

The San Jose Mercury News offices were used as an incubator for the startup, Stangle told in March.

“It’s a fairly unique arrangement — we’re building a special version of Tackable which features MediaNews content and they’re paying us development fees, which have allowed us to expand the team,” he said.

MediaNews is now using TapIn at its 20 Bay Area papers, which include the Merc, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and Palo Alto Daily News.

Not only are readers asked to take pictures of assignments posted by editors, but they’re encouraged to send in live, breaking photos.

Tackable’s team told E&P that their goal is to have 150 newspapers participating in TapIn in the next few months.

The TapIn app appears to be just the beginning for Tackable. Since TapIn is oriented to a user’s location — that is, you can tap a map on the application and see what’s happening in a particular area — it can also be used to deliver location-specific information about restaurants, concerts, shopping bargains, and so on. Users can also access area and neighborhood news and events provided by California Newspapers Partnership journalists and one another.

Bay Area Media News,


  1. I agree with the post about it being great for PR people. If you look at pages in newspapers that is primarily user-generated content, you get a lot of press releases disguised as news. Hospitals, institutions, companies may actively be involved. They may have one or two viral successes, but this will largely fail because it will be an untrusted source of news.

  2. Nope, no value in sending trained individuals into the field to gather information necessary to participating in a democratic society.

    "Facebook" style news is good enough. It's FUN!!!

    Sure, there will be the rare occasion (Hudson River plane crash, flaming Concorde) where someone on the scene, by virtue of being there first, will have the best content in their photos, regardless of the depth of their take or the technical quality they can produce. Especially now, thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone cams.

    Sure, the aggregator knows that by grabbing the rights to images posted by the non savvy on these sites THEY will profit, handsomly, off of the public's work (think Huffington Post and Haiti earthquake images)

    These revolutions in technology should be opening avenues for the flow of information. Instead, companies such as this dumb down the information we need, and profit wildly from unsuspecting contributors.

    Major news organizations have abdicated their journalistic responsibilities as they struggle to protect obscene profit margins.

    Add this content as an enhancement to professionally gathered, thoughtfully edited and compellingly packaged news and information delivery service (newspaper, stream, broadcast)

    You've lost my trust at the hands of your scavenging for your prime content.

  3. What a great way to save money! Next, let's have the public do all the reporting. Who needs a staff? I get great advice from my neighbors, so I'm going to suggest to Kaiser that they scrap their psychological/psychiatric departments and just go with "citizen therapists."

  4. Tracking back to the Tackable, the photographs are unremarkable, and for the most part, would not survive scrutiny by a photo editor. This is truly appalling.

  5. After reading the links to this posting, I'm still wondering why the average person would bother with the application? I read the part about karma points so I can get coupons at the dry cleaner or car wash. Seriously, why would I use this?

  6. "Not only are readers asked to take pictures of assignments posted by editors, but they’re encouraged to send in live, breaking photos."

    Who is liable when one of these amateurs gets shot or injured covering an assignment or covering breaking news because they were encouraged to by an editor?

  7. Sounds good in theory, but what happens when the amateur gets the names in the captions wrong, or trespasses, or stages a photograph — all things that professional newspaper photographers have been trained not to do, and which would cost them their jobs?

    Will newspapers using this service be legally liable for the screw-ups of the amateurs?

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