Monday, August 31, 2009

We are the Media

The people who claim the media is under corporate control missed the big news. In less than 10 years the Internet, cell phones, video cameras, Youtube and alert citizens unlocked the media business and took control of it. But instead of concentrating power in fewer hands, the new forces distributed media power to anyone who was interested.

The difference in coverage of the last two presidential elections showed the rapid pace of change over a mere four years. The collapse of major daily newspapers shows the transformative power of the Internet and the rise of citizen journalists, bloggers, ranters and opinionators.

All a Cub Reporter Needs Is a Scoop and an iPhone

SAN FRANCISCO — A Web site for local news hopes to fill the growing void in professionally reported local news by recruiting citizens armed with iPhones as reporters.

The site, Fwix, will release an iPhone application this week that enables its users to file news updates, photos and videos, live from the field. The items will appear on Fwix’s year-old Web site, which also collects links to local news articles from newspapers and blogs in 85 cities.

“We believe we are the real-time local newswire,” said Darian Shirazi, Fwix’s 22-year-old founder.

Many local news Web sites are sprouting up, relying on sources like police reports and neighborhood bloggers to supplement dwindling local newspaper reporting. But most provide an incomplete picture of a reader’s town.

Fwix, which is backed by BlueRun Ventures, hopes reader submissions about a fire, car crash or new restaurant down the street will fill in the picture. Peter Krasilovsky, who studies local media at the research firm Kelsey Group, said he was skeptical that enough people would actually send in news reports.

Still, user participation has jumped for other sites when they offer mobile apps. When Citysearch let people write local business reviews from their phones, there was a sharp increase. People are more likely to submit content to a Web site in the moment, said Dinesh Moorjani, who runs mobile for Citysearch.

Of course, people are already using Twitter for on-the-go news updates, but news gets lost amid tweets about the cat and plans for dinner. Mr. Shirazi said Fwix would offer more relevant updates. Its software ranks items based on whether other users submit articles that mention similar events and locations and if the person was at the scene, information it gleans from the iPhone’s GPS location data.

Fwix said that 400,000 people visit its site each month but eight million see its ever-updating lists of headlines and local text ads in widgets on other sites, like Weather Underground. Mr. Shirazi said local media outlets have expressed interest in running Fwix headlines, too.

That is key to its success, Mr. Krasilovsky said. “If it could be like The A.P. and be widely distributed, that could be fantastic.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be, 'We are the World'? Get your musical knowledge right?

1:10 PM  

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