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Apr 18, 2017

Like Uber, but for news: app to turn drivers into camos

A new app will turn Uber drivers into on-the-fly camera operators for major news networks.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

A new app will use Uber drivers as drive-by camera operators for breaking news footage to feed the 24/7 media beast.

Veteran journalist Adam Walters is founding director of NewsCar, which he told Crikey would fill demand for fresh content as networks try to retain viewers and their relevance.

“It’s not disruptive. It’s taking into account the dramatic transformation of news gathering,” he said. “This is giving the news brands a chance to smooth out the playing field in this new world.”

The app will allow newsrooms to see which drivers are near news events and send them a job request. Drivers will then use the app to film the event in wide-screen, and footage can be recorded or broadcast live. Drivers be paid directly through the app, and NewsCar will take a cut.

But Walters says he’s not out to put camera operators out of a job. 

“Without those pictures, sometimes you won’t have a story. In the case of a house fire [for example], without shots of the flames, newsrooms might not be inclined to cover it. It creates a life for that story,” he said.

Walters says the app is different to other citizen journalist apps because drivers would always be responding to specific requests, and the app would be set up for news requirements with wide-screen, high-quality footage.

“There will be guidance for the drivers in terms of tips on shooting with lighting and the more technical aspects, but the biggest complaint about amateur vision is the aspect ratio,” he said.

Networks will buy access to the footage, but NewsCar will own the footage, which it will maintain in an archive.

Networks will also have responsibility for the drivers’ behaviour while they are shooting, ensuring they are not breaking any laws.

Walters was responsible for the controversial Seven news story that brought down then-NSW transport minister David Campbell, who was filmed leaving a gay club in Sydney in 2010.

The story was found by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) to have breached Campbell’s privacy, but it was in the public interest because Campbell had resigned before the story aired — after he was approached by Seven with the footage.

The app will launch in Sydney later this month. Walters says the the company is already in talks to set up in the United States with ride-sharing apps there. — Emily Watkins

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7 thoughts on “Like Uber, but for news: app to turn drivers into camos

  1. Project Manager

    Newscar seems to be linked to and giving ‘story priority’ to RSDAA the Ride Share “Union”.
    There is a fair amount of unhappiness about this from those who don’t feel the need to unionise.

    1. Lesley Graham

      There are many issues with this concept, including the fact that these driver’s are underpaid & aren’t given a destination on receipt of the booking. Plus also they don’t have the safety options for either the passenger or the driver that the taxi cabs have therein lies the problem. Leaves them wide open for any number of things to go horribly wrong. Maybe this is why Uber is promoting this “app” as a distraction for what is really wrong, for one thing their business model, is problematic at best as far as I understand it.

  2. susan winstanley

    Nightcrawler was a creepy movie, now come to life

  3. old greybearded one

    Should make for really safe driving eh? Of course it is a way of removing camera operators. What tosh.

  4. Lesley Graham

    So do they get to be an Uber driver or a untrained news camera person. I like many people already have massive issues with Uber, why do they seem to think that it is a good idea to make things worse for their driver’s who are already being underpaid, & in many country areas are causing issues for small, local cab companies & in turn customer’s like myself that know that Uber’s levels of safety are totally unacceptable by Australian standards, why don’t they get off their backsides and fix that rather than continue to destroy the victorian taxi industry,

  5. Mike Smith

    So this was why they sacked all their photographers.

  6. zut alors

    Spotted an Uber driver on a side street to my building last Saturday – appeared lost (!), spoke no English but showed me a screen with the name of his passenger which I recognised.

    And this is a potential photographer for NewsCar? Would this man have a clue what he was witnessing? He didn’t have a clue which building he was targeting.

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