Citizen Television?

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The citizen’s media movement online has primarily been an act of individuals writing or recording their views and sharing them from an independent platform like a blog. Some commercial entities, like Nashville’s WKRN and KRON in San Francisco are enabling a small group of citizen reporters to tell news stories their way in the local markets. The television stations are paying their citizen journalists for work completed. Local markets get better coverage, in theory and the people doing the coverage get paid. Nothing’s wrong with that.
So what happens when a popular television show starts enlisting fans to do the shows writing for free? That’s exactly what Showtime’s The L Word is doing, according to a recent New York Times article (linked to from FanLib.com, the marketing company in the middle). FanLib solicits scene submissions from viewers during a 12-week contest. The writers get to use any of the submitted material as part of the upcoming season. And in theory, the winners get to see their scenes acted out on the show. At the end of the day, the show’s writer’s end up looking smarter as a result and still get paid. Sounds more like Citizen fleecing to me.