Speaker: Turi Munthe, Demotix
November 16, 2011
A bit about Demotix…
- Background is politics and freelancing
- Desire to create not just a socially-responsible business, but a “actively good” one
- Basic idea was to create a safe platform for anyone wanting to upload stories not being covered.
- “Free speech as soft power” — led to democratization of regions such as the Middle East.
“Mainstream media has been shedding jobs like a 70 year old man sheds hair.”
- Both foreign correspondents and local reporters are being cut.
- Only 4 US newspapers even have a foreign desk.
- Even the BBC doesn’t have a full-time staffer in Latin America.
This enshrines “parachute journalism”.
- Shallow knowledge of local issue.
Ever-increasing reliance on AP and Reuters for world news.
- Ramifications for free speech.
Business model: instead of big networks of volunteers, Demotix receives content, sells it to newspapers and splits the take 50/50.
- London-based sales team, global network of resellers, strategic partnership with Corbis
“What we realized we couldn’t do”
To build a model on citizen journalism, you have to get content that’s sellable.
Text is really difficult
- Most papers will tell you people can’t write
- Impossible to copyright data; can’t sell it as text.
- Despite starting as a platform for free speech, platform is mainly used for photo and video.
- Good at: bomb fallout, protests, Arab Spring, etc.
- Some contributors are able to live off earnings. Would be breaking even if weren’t reinvesting at current pace.
- People actually contributing journalistic content is a really small number.
- “80/20 rule is actually 99/1 when it comes to useful content.” — Web 2.0 is a myth.
- Very few people actually interested in newsgathering.
- Built network by a lot of reaching out to groups like local camera clubs.
- “The way you go out and build your community in the beginning is how your community will be forever.”
Example of Digg:
- Gamification: “Web gurus treat human beings as children — and are right to do so.”
- Temptation to use internal stats to gamify content filtering process, but feeling is it cheapens the process of journalism.
- Worries about faked content. Happens to everyone and would be brutally bad if done early on. Use metadata and calling to verify.
Balance between speed and quality.
- Quality of photojournalism has vastly improved over the last decade or so, with everyone taking photos.
Storyful: “opposite of Demotix” in approach. Acts as breaking story news curation service.
- Both pushes highly-shared stories to the front as well as verifies the content.
- No way around using humans for news
- Contributors everywhere except Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa
Important points for communities:
Questions to audience:
How has the relationship between journalist and audience changed?
- Pew: “Views of the News Media 1985-2011”
- Content quality has decreased
- Culture of deference has lessened
- Simultaneously adds new voices but decrease of trust in accuracy makes everything relative; what is true?
- Liveblogging as a direct result of citizen journalism: “article without the stitching” due to the realization readers can “do the stitching themselves.”
- “Downside is we have nobody to trust.”
How does a community impact the way in which you create news?
- To drive engagement, repeat visits, etc.
- Newspapers start from a negative position — inaccurate, partisan and influenced. The community is those readers who have overcome that.
What is UGC good/bad at?
What are the implications for journalism? Can UGC address some of the bigger blindspots in journalism? What is the next phase?
Follow Turi Munthe on Twitter @turimunthe.
© 2018 Ændrew Rininsland, except where otherwise noted.