"There's this mythology of what a citizen journalist is per se, which is that they are like a kind of amateur Walter Cronkite, and that is just not the case. People will come to the table with a piece of the puzzle. It's almost like being a cop at the crime scene where you get the accounts of eye witnesses and then you figure out what happened. Well, when did the man approach you? And what time was it and do you have any photographs, and looking for evidence in a sense. So it's kind of stitching together what happened from a multitude of perspectives and using those perspectives as a way of figuring out what the truth is."
Media Giraffe Researcher Sara Majka, August 2008
UPDATE: Sept. 1, 2009 -- NowPublic was sold to the Examiner group.
Somehow, a lot of these stories start with a garage. And that's where this one begins, with Michael Tippett in his garage in Vancouver, Canada playing around with the internet. "I've always been a news junkie," Tippett says, and when he found the internet, one of his first thoughts was how this new technology could change the news.
Flash forward to 2005, when Tippett and two partners, Michael Myers and Leonard Brody, launched NowPublic, calling it a "crowd powered media" website. It's a portal that gives the audience the tools to become the reporters. To date, it's one of the most successful attempts at what is commonly known as citizen journalism. After only a few years, they have 100,000 citizen reporters in about 4,000 cities in most countries in the world. In 2007 they were named one of Time's top 50 websites, who cited that "nowhere are the merits of citizen journalism more apparent than at NowPublic."
More than anything, an experiment like this gives you a quick study in human behavior. In what motivates people to do work that they don't get paid for. In how something you create might not be used the way you intended when you created it. And, more than everything else, how different this kind of news can feel. "Accounts can almost be too intimate and too personal and too authentic," Tippett says, "where it's really heartbreaking to see stuff like that happen to people on a personal level."UPDATES:
NowPublic resists takeover and raises $10.6 million in funding (July 30, 2007)NowPublic chairman Merrill Brown interviewed by PaidContent.org on Oct. 17, 2007, about the company's strategy (includes link to audio).
The Associated Press partners with NowPublic (Feb. 7, 2007)
Merrill Brown joins NowPublic.com as chairman
Comments on the AP deal
Below excerpted from "News: The News is Now Public" (http://blueherenow.com/phrint/corp/projects.php):
NowPublic, a breakthrough open source news site that allows users to build their own news stories, launched in Vancouver on Tuesday. The website, located at NowPublic.com, brings together the power of photographers, both amateur and professional - and bloggers, letting them work together to cover news stories anywhere in the world.
At NowPublic, bloggers can convert their work into photo assignments, recruit local volunteers and even set budgets for material they would like to feature. The NowPublic community votes to prioritize assignments and filters real time coverage emerging from eyewitnesses and people close to the real story. Photographers can submit and circulate their work while safely managing their images using NowPublic's smart media format. Readers of NowPublic get a fresh look at events and can compare real time, breaking stories from the blogging community to coverage from other news media.
Below from http://www.nowpublic.com/node/979:
Technology has broken the corporate news monopoly. Digital cameras, camera phones, blogs, and RSS put the tools of the news trade into the hands of the public, and now real news comes from real people everywhere. Now you can demand coverage of the stories you care about, all you need is NowPublic.
Here public demand launches investigations. Story Ideas come from people on the ground, insiders, community leaders. Footage comes from eye witnesses, citizen reporters, people close to the real story. It's open source news, and even in its infancy it's richer, faster, more powerful than the infotainment it replaces.