Vigilante justice just doesn’t pay in New York. With wages so low and rents so high, it’s hard to falsely accuse a homeless man of starting a wildfire, put a $30,000 bounty on his head, and spur a city-wide mob, all while putting food in the mouths of your ungrateful family. But in an uplifting twist, the crime-scanner app Citizen, which sends location-based “safety alerts” to listeners of true-crime podcasts, has taken a bold stance for labor rights by embracing the $25 minimum wage.
On July 25, the New York Post revealed that the Silicon Valley app formerly known as “Vigilante” was hiring a fleet of gig workers in the five boroughs. A so-called “Freelance Field Reporter / Street Team Lead” would be responsible for ambulance-chasing and livestreaming from crime scenes. An eight-hour shift of Nightcrawler larping could pay between $200 and $250 – that’s a ceiling of $31.25 and a floor of $25 an hour. Not bad work if you can get it and a great creative outlet if you're the kind of guy who thinks your neighbors are trying to kill you.
Citizen has no shortage of cash – the app raised $133 million from VC firms and one of America’s greatest business minds Peter Thiel. But Citizen must know the $25 minimum wage is controversial; maybe that’s why they have conducted their hiring process in secret – failing to flag paid crime-streamers on the app, declining to list the job openings on their own website, and allegedly advertising the employer for the positions as third-party casting agency Flyover Entertainment. Asked if one of the since-deleted job postings was for Citizen, Flyover owner Michael Yates told the Post: “I’d violate my NDA and they’d rightfully fire me.”
But the Post identified a streamer named Chris, or @cgutter_ on the app, who had streamed 1,600 videos around the Bronx and whom Citizen confirmed was an employee. Though Chris is not identified as such on the platform, a spokesperson for the app denied that they hid their paid field reporters. “Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works,” the spokesperson said, “and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time.”
And great news, the roles are bicoastal. A job posting for vacancies in New York and Los Angeles describes the workflow like this:
You are "on call" for the app on the days you work. On those days you may get dispatched only to 1 event such as "dog locked in car", or several events ranging from child reported missing, to house fire, to anything else. The app will *never* ask you to go to an actively dangerous location. You will be behind established media lines, behind police tape. You will be live-streaming from your phone straight to the app, covering the event as news. You'll report what you see. In the event that witnesses, police officials or other parties to interview are available, you must take the initiative to interview them for the app viewers.
If you live elsewhere, don’t worry. Citizen will be hiring in “other top 10 markets soon.”
Update: A spokesperson from Citizen sent Gawker a comment after this piece was published. “Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works, and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time. We believe our Street Team will ultimately help guide our users on how to broadcast in an effective, helpful and safe way. This listing is for this team."