An interesting media innovation today launches in Australia, exciting and frightening in its potential impact. Globizzle uses the web to create a worldwide market for media content — either professional or amateur.

The founders of Globizzle have been talking to various players in freelance journalism (including me) and to media companies, including News Limited and Fairfax, for almost a year now, preparing for today’s launch. To freelancers, they have promised a fair marketplace and more opportunity to sell their work. To media companies, they have held out the prospect of easier sourcing of media content.

The upside and the downside for journalists are obvious. On the one hand, freelancers have access to the global media market. If a journalist can write a sharp travel story on their home town then they might be able to sell it to multiple overseas publications, including those they have never heard of, through Globizzle.

A piece of international interest already sold locally can be syndicated (providing freelancers have not sold the rights) without the assistance of Big Media.

For citizen journalists it might mean that the lucky shot of Russell Crowe caught in the local cafe, or even of a terrorist bombing in the London underground, need no longer be made available for free but rather offered for sale.

The downside is also obvious, and the same as the upside: Australian freelance journalists become, whether they want it or not, part of a global media market competing against content providers setting their own prices — quite possibly lower than the industry standards here.

What might it mean for the tradition of foreign correspondents, for travel writers and for those wanting to command a sensible price for lifestyle copy that could be written for a fraction of the price by someone in Mumbai? Globizzle, or innovations like it, could force freelancers to think very hard indeed about quality, and what they can provide that is unique.

What might it mean, ultimately, for staff journalists? Already, there is talk at Fairfax and News of outsourcing the writing of lifestyle sections.

Will it work? It all depends on whether Globizzle succeeds in gaining sufficient quality content to attract media buyers. At the moment, there are only a few test items on the site.

But Globizzle could become a major means for freelancers to make a living and for wannabes to break in to the industry. It could be another example of media companies becoming publishers, rather than generators of content — of having more porous boundaries.

The principle is simple. Anyone can join the Globizzle site for free.  If a content maker has a story, photograph or video, they can post it on the site and set their own price. Member media organisations can view a brief summary. If they buy the piece, then the journalist gets paid through Paypal within 14 days, minus a 10% commission to  Globizzle.

The founders of Globizzle are Australian entrepreneurs Jonathon Italiano, based in Perth, and the Dubai-based Georgina Thorn. Neither has a substantial background in media. Italiano is a property developer with a work history in Asia and Dubai, and Thorn has worked mainly in fashion with a bit of writing on the side.

The four member management team also includes a public relations manager based in India and a general manager living in the United Arab Emirates.

The inspiration for Globizzle was the accommodation website Wotif, in which hotels and those seeking a room for the night can interact and hotels sell rooms that have not found a buyer.

Globizzle takes no role in setting prices. That is for journalists and buyers to work out for themselves. The market decides.

Just like eBay, there will be star system to indicate the quality of content makers, as judged by the amount they have sold. One star is equivalent to up to 25 sales. Five stars means 101 sales or more.

You can see the company’s promotional video on YouTube here.

This one is going to be interesting to watch.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey