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Web address
Commercial Yes
Type of site
Pictures, Videos, News, Journalism, Image Sales
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Owner Corbis Images
Launched January 2009 (2009-01)
Current status Inactive

Demotix was a citizen journalism website and photo agency.[1] It enabled freelance photojournalists and amateurs to share their user-generated content and photojournalism, and license them to clients including mainstream media organisations, charities, and stock image buyers.[2]

The website was launched in January 2009 by CEO Turi Munthe and COO Jonathan Tepper and is based in London, UK.[3] The objective of Demotix is to "rescue journalism" by connecting independent journalists with the traditional media.[1]

Etymology and significance[edit]

The name Demotix comes from the Greek word Demos or Δήμος, which refers to 'the people'. Demotic means 'of the people' and most commonly refers to language. CEO Turi Munthe has stated that he chose the name because "Our aim is to open up journalism to the people in the modern age, just as the demotic script opened up writing in ancient Egypt".[4]


Demotix opened in beta in July 2008 and launched publicly in January 2009.[5] The agency was previously to be known as "Nyouz", but this name was discarded in favour of Demotix.[4]

Since its foundation, Demotix has announced partnership agreements with a variety of other news organisations, including Global Voices Online,[6] the Press Association,[7] and Corbis Images.[8] Demotix has also partnered with The Huffington Post,[9] The Daily Telegraph[10] and Le Monde[11] as well as Future TV[12] in Lebanon, the Himalayan Times[13] and elsewhere around the globe.

In August 2011, Demotix CEO Turi Munthe announced that it had accepted an undisclosed investment from Corbis, following on from the media distribution agreement the two companies had arrived at in March of the same year.[14]

Demotix was acquired by Corbis Corporation in November 2012.[15] Shortly thereafter editor-in-chief Corey Pein quit in protest of Corbis's treatment of freelance photographers.[16]

Notable stories and scoops[edit]

Demotix has been particularly successful at covering news the mainstream media cannot reach, and came to prominence with its user-generated reporting from the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict,[17][18] and its in-depth coverage of the G20 protests in London including an image of Ian Tomlinson who died at the event.[19][20][21]

Iran elections[edit]

In June 2009, during protests over the disputed presidential election in Iran, the Iranian government imposed sanctions on all foreign media, preventing them from documenting the protests.[22] However, Demotix contributors, based in Iran, defied this media crackdown to upload hundreds of images onto the Demotix website illustrating the violent street-battles and civil unrest.[23] The strategy delivered in Iran, with Demotix offering pictures that can’t be matched by the mainstream media. The coverage was syndicated by a number of agencies such as Reuters, Agence France Presse, European Pressphoto Agency, The New York Times, the UK's The Daily Telegraph, El Pais and a range of other newspapers.

On Wednesday, June 17, Demotix reported one of its reporters had been arrested and his camera seized in Iran.[24] On Thursday, June 25, Demotix commissioning editor Andy Heath reported, "We've just heard that the Demotix contributor who was arrested last week by the Iranian police will not face further remember inquiries and has had his camera returned to him by officials."[25]

On Saturday, June 20, Demotix received some of the only photos of the violence in Tehran, where authorities were shown to use tear gas against protesters.[26] These images were licensed to a number of outlets, including US newspaper The New York Times, the UK's The Daily Telegraph and Spain's El Pais.

Henry Gates – A Citizen Journalism Exclusive[edit]

In July 2009, a Demotix contributor uploaded a photo of Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard professor, at the point of his arrest for disorderly conduct.[27] This was the only image of Prof. Gates’ arrest in circulation and, as such, the photo became an important piece of evidence in the resulting debate.

The photograph was licensed by multiple major American news outlets including ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC, and in such newspapers as The New York Post, USA Today, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and The Guardian in the UK.[28]

The 9/11 Wars[edit]

Demotix continues to receive contributions from countries that became the focus of military intervention, invasion, or Al-Qaeda and Taliban activity in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, including Afghanistan,[29] Iraq[30] and Pakistan[31]

2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings[edit]

Participants in and observers of the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa have uploaded content to Demotix. Contributions were submitted from countries including Egypt,[32] Tunisia[33] and Libya[34] in North Africa.

In the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, there were submissions from Yemen[35] and Bahrain.[36]

2011 Norway attacks[edit]

Among the first on the scene of the bombs detonated in central Oslo in July 2011 were Demotix contributors, capturing some graphic images of the aftermath of the explosions. Their photos were among the first to show that the bombs had had fatal casualties.[37][38][39]

2011 UK riots[edit]

Many photographers submitted their images of the rioting that broke out across the UK in August 2011,[40] as well as material illustrating the spontaneous cleanup movements which followed them.

The agency also noted in blog posts that several contributors had come under attack by rioters.[41][42]


Demotix was founded with two principles in mind: freedom of speech and freedom of information.[1]

Demotix defines its "freedom of speech" role as giving the "man and (often more importantly) woman on the street a voice. Whether they're in Azerbaijan or Zanzibar. A space where they can tell their stories, build communities, and get their news out to the world."

[1] Demotix defines its "freedom of information" role as participating in distributing information to an "under-funded mainstream media".[1] Demotix intends to build news communities and source stories and news from every corner of the globe.[1]

These two aims are served in two primary ways: first, by publishing contributors' submissions to the Demotix website, where they benefit from the site's SEO, SMO and other online visibility efforts.[43] Secondly, the agency places contributors’ images in the mainstream media, filling in the gaps where media institutions may lack local personnel, knowledge or access.[44]

Business model[edit]

Demotix works because of its links with major media buyers across the world.[44] Demotix is a for-profit site, acting as a broker between freelance photo- and video-journalists and traditional newspapers, magazines, TV channels and websites.[45]

Demotix has over 60,000 members in 190 countries and territories, and relays a selection of its best content, selected by its full-time editors, to over 100 news media companies worldwide in real time.[46]

Anyone who registers with Demotix can upload images and video and organise them into a story. Users can remain anonymous if the country or environment they are working from is not safe – whether that be because they run the risk of physical harm or death, or because they risk losing their livelihood (as in the case of whistleblowers).[1] Demotix sells non-exclusive rights for user-submitted photographs for anything between $15 and $3,000 USD.[1] Demotix also sells exclusive rights for whatever price can be negotiated.[43]

Users receive 50% of the money collected from each sale and retain the copyright. As laid out in Demotix’ Terms of Business, users grant Demotix a license to “access your Materials through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform and sublicense to distributors, resellers and end users” – meaning that “At no time does Demotix hold or own any right of ownership.”[47]

Demotix is supported by Gandi as a webhost, site designer Very Studios, and the Demotix logo was designed by Pentagram.[1]

Advertising revenue sharing[edit]

In January 2012, Demotix announced that it would add advertising to its website, sharing 80% of the revenue generated with its contributors.[48]

Sale of Corbis Images to Visual China Group, January 2016.[edit]

On January 22, 2016, all pages at the Demotix website were redirected to the home page of Corbis Images, where an announcement and some FAQs about the sale of Corbis Images to Visual China Group appeared. Simultaneously Visual China Group/Getty announced on their websites the acquisition of Corbis Images by VCG and the licensing arrangement with Getty. Some Demotix contributors expressed their dissatisfaction with the sudden disappearance of the Demotix website on Facebook and Twitter and raised questions related to monetary debts and future usage of their images.

On January 28, 2016, the Demotix office in London, U.K. sent a mass mailing to some of its contributors and photographers announcing the sale of Corbis to Visual China Group. The body of the e-mail read, "Last week Corbis announced the sale of the Corbis Images (excluding Splash), Corbis Motion, and Veer licensing businesses to Unity Glory International, an affiliate of the Visual China Group (VCG), a leading Chinese visual communications and new media business. In addition to the Corbis and Veer content, VCG has also purchased the Demotix brand and content. Currently the Demotix website is redirecting Demotix visitors to VCG will communicate next steps with Demotix contributors as soon as possible."[49]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Demotix has won or been nominated for numerous awards.[50]

The agency won the Media Guardian Innovation Award for Independent Media in 2009.[51] The agency was also awarded a British Airways Opportunity Grant in 2010,[52] a Webby award in the "News" category in 2011[53] and was nominated to the TechMedia Invest 100 2009.[54]

Demotix has been nominated at the SXSW Awards 2009, in the Community and People's Choice categories, the Mashable Open Web Awards 2009 in the Political News category, and the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism, 2009.[50]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Demotix – About Us[dead link]
  2. ^ "Coverage From". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Future of Online Journalism". Online Journalism Blog. May 13, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Demotix (December 17, 2008). " – Demotic, the language of the people". London: Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Demotix (August 1, 2008). "Telegraph – Why Citizen Journalism Matters". London: Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ Corbis Images and Demotix form partnership (March 9, 2011). " – Demotix and Global Voices strike content partnership". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "British Journal of Photography – Press Association to distribute Demotix' images". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ "British Journal of Photography – Demotix goes mainstream with Corbis deal". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  9. ^ "G20 Protests". Huffington Post. March 30, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Telegraph Blogs – Demotix". London: Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  11. ^ Andrews, Robert (April 23, 2009). "Le Monde Taking Cit-J Reportage from Demotix". Paid Content. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Future News". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ "The Himalayan Times". The Himalayan Times. December 4, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ "British Journal of Photography – Corbis Invests in Demotix". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Top 5 Reasons I Quit My Job – Corey Pein". Retrieved 2016-05-28. 
  17. ^ "TechCrunch – Direct from the Streets of Gaza". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  18. ^ "La ofensiva sobre Gaza también se vive en las redes sociales". El Pais. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Citizen news wire Demotix makes front page with Tomlinson image". April 14, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  20. ^ Elaine Díaz Rodríguez. "Demotix entre los ganadores de los Mediaguardian Innovation Awards 2009". Periodismo Ciudadano. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  21. ^ Weaver, Anna M. "Man collapses and dies during G20 protests". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  22. ^ Fathi, Nazila (June 24, 2009). "The New York Times – Updates from Iran". The New York Times. Iran. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Iran Election Hub". Demotix. December 17, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Reporter Arrested in Iran". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Demotix blog – Good News from Iran". June 25, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  26. ^ Kevin Anderson (June 22, 2009). "Citizen Media in Iran". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  27. ^ Carter, Bill. "Henry Louis Gates Arrested". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  28. ^ Nicas, Jack (July 23, 2009). "The Boston Globe – Birth of a Flashpoint". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  29. ^ "all stories from Afghanistan". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  30. ^ "all stories from Iraq". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  31. ^ "all stories from Pakistan". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  32. ^ "The Egyptian Revolution". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  33. ^ "The Tunisian Revolution". Demotix. November 17, 1976. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Libya War". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Yemen Protests". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  36. ^ "all stories from Bahrain". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  37. ^ Lunde, Andreas H. "Explosion in an Oslo government building, Norway". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Oslo explosion – July 22 as it happened". The Daily Telegraph. UK. July 22, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Norway terror attacks hub". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  40. ^ "England Riots 2011". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Demotix blog – staying safe in the Tottenham riots". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Demotix blog – attacks on photographers in the London riots". August 17, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  43. ^ a b "How it works". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  44. ^ a b "How We Sell". Demotix. March 8, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  45. ^ Demotix: The News by You by Joyce Valenza PhD Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  46. ^ "Demotix - What We Do". Retrieved on 22 January 2014.
  47. ^ "Terms of Business". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  48. ^ "Cit-J Wire Demotix Adds Advertising, Giving 80 Percent To Contributors". January 12, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Corbis Images Sold by Bill Gates to Visual China Group". PetaPixel. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  50. ^ a b "Press Room". Demotix. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  51. ^ Media Guardian Innovation Awards
  52. ^ Jan 28, 2010 (January 28, 2010). "British Airways UK Opportunity Grant competition winners". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  53. ^ "15th Annual Webby Awards Official Honoree Selections". October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  54. ^ "TechMedia Invest 100 2009". The Guardian. UK. September 13, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 

External links[edit]