Digital Technology Makes 'Citizen Journalists' Out of Eyewitnesses Eager to Click and Post





GLASGOW, Scotland -- At 2:42 p.m. on Oct. 11, Dean Collins heard a thunderous explosion as he worked at his computer in his 30th-floor apartment in Manhattan.

Collins looked out his window and saw a small plane crashing into a building right in front of him -- the accident that killed New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor. Instinctively, he recalled, he pulled his Fuji digital camera from a drawer and started shooting, thinking to himself, "This is going to be on the news."

Collins, a consultant for a software company, said he remembered reading about Scoopt, a year-old agency in Scotland that brokers photos for "citizen journalists." Within minutes, he had e-mailed his digital shots to Scoopt. Hours later, his picture of a smoking Manhattan high-rise was in three British newspapers, including a front-page splash in the Times of London. He earned $650 for his work.

The rapid rise of digital technology, which enables ordinary people almost anywhere to record images and post them quickly on the Internet, is changing the way the world witnesses history, not to mention the dependable misbehavior of celebrities. Events that once were recorded only by human memory may now endure in full, pixelated detail, available in seconds around the globe.


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