The New Photojournalism: Brief Chat with Fresco’s John Meyer

Lord knows journalism needs help. Sure there’re promising green shoots: data-oriented journalism, the open data movement, and crowd-sourced reporting and analysis to name a few. Here’s some other good news: An NYU student and successful entrepreneur, John Meyer, has a new iPhone app that crowdsources far flung citizen photographers to provide great photo content for existing media outlets.

I’m getting ahead of the story a little. First, Meyer had the idea of putting together news and pictures for a new generation that wants to see everything on the small screen. I chatted with Meyer over the phone last week while he was out in California for the Apple World Wide Developer Conference. He’s hoping Apple will feature his photojournalism app, Fresco on the AppStore page.

He told me that since his peers are getting their news from Twitter and Facebook, he had the thought about a year ago–actually at WWDC in 2013– there should be a more efficient way to absorb news quickly.

So if a picture is like a hundred tweets, and assuming you can sift through the news and aggregate the most newsworthy photos, then you’d have the makings for a powerful service. Which is what he did … while still a student at NYU’s engineering school. By the way his TapMedia company–headquartered in SoHo–already has a successful track record with several other iTunes apps.

So I downloaded Fresco early last week,and I’m noticing I’m using it during my morning commute. Sure, there are other services, but this one is simple and straightforward. Let’s face it, it’s not just Millenials, but just about everyone I see is using their smartphone to look at their emails and take calls during morning and evening rush hours. The next to-do is catch up on events, and then it’s a short hop to Fresco’s top stories.

For now, Meyer has an arrangement with AP and licenses their photos–makes sense since he was just starting up. He’s got some interesting plans going forward involving revenue sharing arrangements with both photo pros and amateurs. On his roadmap is a push service that will send alerts to Fresco subscribers based on location. He told me it’s expensive for, say, The New York Times to send a photographer to Thailand to cover the coup.

A local Fresco subscriber can take the pics, which Fresco will use for its own service and then license to the Times, AP, or other media outlets. Splitting the revenue, of course.

It’s a great idea, not only for getting news to the Twitter-atti but also nurturing the next generation of newsies and photojournalists.