In the NYC area, at one time the traffic reporting companies ("Shadow Traffic," etc) had freelancers allowed on their own radio frequencies to report traffic conditions, which worked out pretty well. However, what these companies would NOT do is give these freelancers any information about traffic conditions, even the ones they were reporting on.
In other words, it was a one-way street: you tell us, but we're going to keep you in the dark. Their argument was that even the freelancers contributing free and important information to them should have to turn on the AM radio and find out what's going on.
That sort of rubbed people the wrong way, and participation died out. But with the cell phone, more and more people were willing to report, so everyone with a cell phone and in a car was a "freelancer."