In my last blogpost, I discussed what “Medium is the message” implies: i e what news business really is about. To me, and to all of you reading news, one very interesting part of this industry t o d a y is to see how a completely new world of journalism emerges. Turi Munthe, founder of Demotix (a site where users can upload their news stories, photos and video) and one truly inspiring innovator, is one of the persons who is really understanding this dilemma and who is reacting instantly as the paradigm shifts. Munthe claims in this debate about business models in community journalism (from 22:30 in the video), that since 2008, 35,000 jobs within journalism are being lost annually in the UK and the US, this being a natural effect of the news business industry repositioning itself.
Business modell to distribute news
So, gradually there seems to be an migration to new niches and new business models. Before the web browser became available for the masses, the traditional role of the news paper to gather news and choose content was an exclusitivity belonging in the news rooms. However, this changes. The decrease of job opportunities for journalists is the result of when the journalists don’t do the greater part of the reporting anymore. Instead, the audience itself is gathering most of the information. The readers need is now instead proper channels to distribute stories, videos and photos. The news corporations are therefor being left with a new role, which mainly is about collecting and sharing news.
Munthe: We are a news website generated by the people for the people. We then take the best of that information, those photos and videos, and we sell them to the mainstream media. People are able to upload their content safely and, if necessary, anonymously. We are like a street wire.
Demotix collects and publishes stories and experiences from its users, where at least 50% of the revenue goes to the person providing the information. The most important link in their business chain for making profit is doubtless the sales team which shares the best of the content to other papers. This means, when one of the collaboration partners also chooses to publish the article, the revenue will then be split between the partner paper, CitizenSide and the contributor.
The equation behind this business model is important to dissicate properly. Philip Trippenbach, editor-in-chief for CitizenSide, explains how they realized that there are a great many reasons why people want to share content and that most people are not mainly interested in the financial award. They want to be a part of a community. They want to make an impact.
Intrinsical rewarding factors such as loyalty, feedback, trust, motivation are motivating. Pages like CitizenSide or Demotix are offering its contributing users to get all this: the users get subscribers, the get ranked, they can level and become more visible for more people. With this, the organizations reward people for shaing content.
Working as a press agency
Another important part concerning everyone in this business is the protection of copyrights. This the average blogger does know very little about and in this field, CitizenSide has shown a great willingness to adapt.
With a sophisticated software, CitizenSide is able to verify imagery, but also tell for example if it has been photoshopped or manipulated in other ways. The software can tell where it was uploaded, by whom and to which sites. The site is also working with a trust system which means that the more good quality content you share, the higher will you be levelled and highlighted on the page. That is possible, even though one chooses to register as anonymous. People also have the opportunity to collect content and send photos to their favourite news corporations, and the revenues had from the second media corporation is shared between the Citizen Side, person taking the photo and the second media part.
New resources in journalism
The type of journalism these two organizations mainly are building their business model on is called citizen journalism, where the audience is reporting (micro reporting) which many experts consider being the future of journalism.
Citizen journalism and other models to cut in on the mainstream news feed, are much needed for organizations wanting to act on the journalistic market. I find that there are not only a big diversity of ideas but lots of original ideas as well. Demotix, started up in 2008 has already more than one million visitors per month and has covered the front pages of the biggest news papers in many countries. To establish on this market, it is crucial to know where the resources are to be found, and this is exactly what the founder of Demotix Turi Munthe has realized.