Video-broadcasting service Bambuser was one of our top media apps of 2011, partly due to the role it played in helping to mobilize citizen journalists across the Middle East during the various periods of political uprisings.

Bambuser is a free-to-use service that lets users quickly broadcast, watch and share live video through mobile phones and computers.

Egyptian activists used the service to broadcast Tahrir Square protests in real time from their mobile phones, and it was also used to monitor the subsequent parliamentary elections in the country. And Bambuser has also been used extensively over the past several months to broadcast live coverage of all the events as they unfolded in Syria, with amateur footage ending up on TV stations around the world.

AP & Bambuser

With that in mind, news-gathering network Associated Press (AP) and Bambuser have today announced an agreement which will give Bambuser-users – more than 1 million people in 190 countries – the chance to share their video content directly with the AP.

“Our cooperation with AP is significant to us and a natural step to take,” says Bambuser Executive Chairman Hans Eriksson. “For the first time, the work of any Bambuser-user can be shared and acknowledged in potentially all major media outlets. This is a real breakthrough for content providers as they can contribute to the wider story with their unique footage.”

Founded in 1846, the AP today is one of the largest and well-known sources of news and information in the world, and on an average day more than half the world’s population sees some form of news from AP.

The tie-up between the two companies will give Bambuser-users worldwide content distribution, and gain them formal credit for their work. Users can let AP distribute their videos to all media outlets around the world under AP’s terms-of-use, by accessing the settings on their Bambuser Dashboard.

Bambusers isn’t just used for political uprisings though, as we saw last year when Hans Eriksson live-streamed a 24-hour journey through London, using the public as his tour guide. And it was also used to live-stream the birth of bear cubs in a small town in Sweden.

However, it has been its wide-spread use during political upheavals in the Middle East that has helped bring Bambuser to the fore, blurring the lines between citizen journalism and, well, journalism.

MiddleEast Associated Press partners with Bambuser to bring citizen journalists videos to the masses

“The people with the best view of any breaking news event are citizens in the right place at the right time with a live-broadcasting app,” adds Eriksson. “What we’ve seen lately is the increasing impact of user-generated content contributing to the major media stories.”

Live news trial

The AP will be able to access and use Bambuser content it vets, verifies and considers newsworthy. As part of the arrangement with Bambuser, the AP will also explore use of Bambuser’s live-video platform as a newsgathering tool for its own journalists.

“User-generated content has become integral to covering breaking news, particularly where access is restricted,” says Mark Davies, AP Deputy Director of International Video. “As a global newsgathering organization in more than 300 locations worldwide, AP has the expertise to verify it, and to add context via our own reporting. Bambuser users have already provided AP with live feeds of fighting inside Syria. This agreement will allow us to share even more Bambuser news video with a worldwide audience, via more than 700 broadcast networks.”

It’s worth noting, however, that users won’t receive any payment for allowing their videos to be used by AP. It’s an entirely opt-in initiative and users agree that they won’t be recompensed for having their videos broadcast. But as noted already, they will receive full credit on any content that’s used. Moreover, Bambuser won’t directly make any money from the content either, though part of the agreement will see AP support Bambuser by tapping its premium tools as part of its own live newsgathering trial.

Overall, this seems like a win-win for all parties concerned. AP gets more extensive access to user-generated content, which it will certainly make some money from as it sells on to other outlets, whilst Bambuser gets great exposure AND a big client in the process. Finally, users get the chance to have their content shared with millions, so as long as you’re happy not making a bean from your video, then everyone’s happy.

Meanwhile, you may want to read our interview with Bambuser’s founders, which took place in Egypt last year.

Bambuser