Friday, July 18, 2008

a few updates

It's been a while since I posted an update.

We've been busy creating an assignments workflow for our publisher partners, as well as a pretty cool project collaboration page to help journalists and editors work together on all the pieces of a story - the copy as well as any media - and track changes over time.

Very soon, we'll be rolling these out and finally throwing open our doors to the public.

We're also increasing the size of our team, so we should be able to start rolling out changes more frequently.

As always, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

stop buying AP Content!

David Cohn tells newspapers... Stop buying AP content! (towards the end of his post).

As I've said before, the problem is not the AP, but really that syndication is a content distribution model that makes less and less sense online. Syndicated content is available everywhere, is undifferentiated, and thus diffuses the benefit that any one publisher gets from using it.

On the other hand, unique content is differentiated, and brings value to the publisher because others link to it.

For newsrooms (at newspapers, at online publishers, or any other news organizations) that can't afford to employ hundreds of reporters around the globe, the future lies in finding ways to more effectively source unique content from a large number of freelancers.

reporterist allows you to manage relationships, transactions, and content with a large number of freelance journalists.

But why shouldn't freelancers just post to their own blog and let the world link to them?

If you believe that your own blog is the best way to monetize a certain piece of content, that's what you should do. Sometimes it is.

Sometimes, someone else (whether another blogger, a newspaper, or an online news publication) will be able to monetize (or distribute) that content much more effectively than you. In that case, you'd be better off letting them publish/monetize/distribute for you.

reporterist can help you connect with publishers who need and want your expert reporting, and can compensate you better than if you were trying to self publish.

We're closing in on a wider launch. If you have a reporterist account already, make sure you've updated your profile with your location. That way you'll be notified when publishers put out assignments in your area. Make sure you also upload your portfolio - that way publishers will have more information to go by when tagging you for assignments.

If you haven't yet gotten an account, sign up for our beta, or wait a little longer until we start letting anyone sign up for trial accounts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

cofounder graduating

Sindya Bhanoo, cofounder of, is graduating today, from Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She'll be heading to the Washington Post in DC for the summer.

Our recent facelift ran into some bugs - things are pretty broken in Internet Explorer. Please bear with us for a little longer than usual though - we're busy celebrating Sindya's graduation!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


We gave reporterist a bit of a facelift today.

I've been working with an awesome designer over the past few weeks to help give our user portfolios a bit of a facelift. I'm excited at the way they turned out. Still clean and simple, like our old design, but a little more polished than what I could accomplish.

I took the opportunity to also integrate his theme with the logged-in portion of our site. So if you notice a few hiccups in the UI - please leave feedback.

The design changes come at a time where we are getting close to opening up the site a little more. We have a few exciting partnerships coming down the line, providing value and benefit to both our editor and reporter users.

stay tuned, as we start rolling out some of the big changes we've been working on the past few months.

update: yuck. I just found out that the pages look absolutely terrible on windows/internet explorer. I'm missing a few files required for IE compatibility. How embarrassing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

the value-add of Journalism

I just read an article about how Facebook and Wikipedia are better information sources during emergencies (hat tip David Cohn), and it gets me back to something that's on many peoples minds.

What is the value of the Journalist in this world of free-flowing information?

I've been saying for a while that I don't believe that newspapers can compete on timeliness with the combination of wire-services and social media (blogging, twittering, facebook, etc).

For news-as-it-happens, short snippets of information - no matter how badly formatted, how terribly worded, or sometimes even how one-sided - are still extremely valuable. Non-text media (audio/video/pictures) is even more powerful for breaking news (it may be biased, but it's at least more believable).

As I stated here (see the comments),
Gathering 'voices from the crowd' has always been an important part of journalism, and the tools available today make that increasingly easy to do. Blogging tools allow for easy digital expression, and all of the aggregating tools out there make it easy to collect those voices together.

But journalism is also about more than that.

Over the past few months of talking to people in the news industry, I've heard this insistence that the only way to compete is to move to a 24/7 newsroom in which things are posted as soon as they happen. I think that's a mistake.

Underlying that thinking is the legacy of the legacy newsroom. Newspapers have always been vertically integrated as distributer, printer, publisher, newsgatherer, news synthesizer, aggregator, marketplace, and community - and they are still trying to be all of the above.

Instead, I think newsrooms need to start recognizing that each of those roles are distinct. In the face of shrinking newsrooms, they have to pick and choose which of those roles they perform better than anyone else in the world.

Newspapers aren't the best marketplace - craigslist is.
Newspapers aren't the best community - facebook might be.
Newspapers aren't the best aggregators - google news may be.

So where does that leave newspapers?

I still think that their best asset is their journalists and their editors. The casual layperson like me may blog our opinions, and we may blog about something happening down the street. But I'm never going to go through the trouble of interviewing people to find out what they think, feel, saw, or heard. And I'm not going to go dig through public papertrails or datasets to find the hidden truths. And I'm terrible at citing my sources. And, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a third-rate editor.

So getting back to where I started. I think social media has given journalists one more mechanism for sampling the public - it's a supplement to going out and interviewing people. And I think that's all that it is.

I will still rely on journalists to synthesize all of that noise into something cohesive, and for editors to help organize that into a meaningful (albeit incomplete) view of the world.

Friday, May 2, 2008

berkeley business plan competition

We presented at the finals of the Berkeley Business Plan Competition over the past two days; it was the culmination of about six months of work writing and rewriting the business plan specifically for the competition.

Thankfully, we had an awesome mentor, Nibha Aggarwal, to help us through the process. She taught us a tremendous amount during our few weekly meetings.

We didn't win any of the prizes. All four of the teams - Omniox, Glycometrix, Titan Medical, and Implicit Interfaces all have awesome IP positions (i.e. patents), and did great presentations.

One of the other finalists, Kebima is an awesome event blogging service that actually covered the public presentations. I think that there a lot of really cool partnerships that they could do with some of the people that I've been talking to.

At the presentation, we also premiered a video interview with some reporterist users which is now linked off our home page.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

great interactions at news tools 2008

I attended the first day of the newstools2008 conference and it's been fantastic.

I've had amazing conversations with a diverse set of really smart people; all of whom are very open to cool and new ideas. I'm excited for the next few days.