Introducing, Newsvine

30 Comments

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine, on his blog had some stark statistics about the declining fortunes of the old media, especially the newspapers. Will the old media will whither away or not, I can’t say. What I can add though, is theat the current state of flux has opened up opportunities for many to try new models, including many different models of citizen journalism. OhMyNews, Digg.com, Pajamas Media and Dan Gillmor’s efforts are good examples. Well, folks lets add another company to the mix – NewsVine, a Seattle-based company started by some of the former members of the Starwave crew. (Okay, I cringed at the name as well!)

In case you are not familiar with the Web 1.0 history, Starwave was this tiny yet innovative start-up that was acquired by Disney, and helped craft ESPN and Disney websites. I remember them as pioneers in creating multimedia experiences via the web browser. A former Starwaver Mike Davidson decided to opt out out of the big company life and jump right into the rough-and-tumble world of start-ups.

Davidson is the CEO of this five person company that has raised seed capital from Second Avenue Partners, a local Seattle venture capital firm created by Mike Slade, Nick Hanauer, Pete Higgins, and Keith Grinstein. Slade incidentally was the original CEO of ESPN.com (and the rest of Starwave) and led the company from a grassroots startup to a sale to Disney for several hundred million dollars. And Keith Grinstein was the former CEO of McCaw International and Nextel Communications. Newsvine has quietly built a site that uses the elements of Web 2.0 such as tagging, user submitted content and all sorts of things. But just don’t call them a Web 2.0 company.

Their model is pretty simple. Marry the content from generic news sources like Associated Press or Reuters, with citizen journalism. Newsvine will feature AP news feeds, which will account for about 80% of the content on the site. Rest of it will be made up of contributions from citizen journalists, who will sign-up and submit content to the site. So if you are a LA Lakers fan, then your columns could be featured right next to AP copy on a URL that will essentially look like Newsvine.com/Lakers. Given that I have been rallying against the whole concept of gross exploitation of “user generated content” you might be wondering why is it any different? Well, because you get a piece of the advertising that is sold against content you generated. Those of you who don’t want to write long articles, simply save the link to Newsvine with your comments.

So what these guys have done is basically mashed-up traditional online news site with About.com, Del.icio.us and OhMyNews and created a rather interesting blend of citizen journalism. From the screen shots I have seen so far, you could not tell the difference between them and say any other mainstream media news site. However, I have not seen the live product, and still remain fairly cautious about how the user contributions will pan out. They seem to be capitalistically-correct and hopefully they will prove my inner skeptic wrong.

PS: Being a media type myself, and a firm believer in the online media (read my resume) I digressed from regular broadband programming and delved into the whole news space. Now back to regular stuff …

30 Comments

Dave

Does “Web 2.0” mean anything more than the name of a conference yet? I don’t like to admit it, but it’s starting to. When people say “Web 2.0” now, I have some idea what they mean. And the fact that I both despise the phrase and understand it is the surest proof that it has started to mean something.

Mark

Anyone interested in new business models for news should check our site, Crisscross, an easy-to-scan news and discussion site with a built-in social network that lets readers share and compare profile information such as goals and favorites.

David Utter

It will be interesting to see how NewsVine and Topix compare head-to-head once NewsVine launches. Chris Tolles used a lot of the same descriptions for the Topix relaunch that Om uses here for NewsVine.

Mark

Add Crisscross News to your list. Ours is a global news network with social networking (currently in beta until) on the side. It is a follow-on from Japan Today, the world’s largest news site about Japan in English.

While newsvine sounds interesting, I think their focus is too wide. I also know that user-generated editing does not work — it drives the most sensational stories to the top and devalues the breadth of news.

Mike D.

Hi “bobafart”. Nice name. I would say that, on the contrary, your comment has “been done to death” since I seen you cut-and-pasted on a couple of blogs now.

Which reminds me… need to really make sure that troll filter is working for launch. :)

On a serious note though, everything in the world has been done before. When the cheeseburger came out, don’t you think there were a lot of people saying the hamburger had already been done? I bet cheeseburgers outsell hamburgers now.

Calvin

Bobafart, I suppose Google should not have gotten into search because, at the time, there was already Yahoo! and Alta Vista, Excite, etc. Perhaps a few shortsighted folks believed they were too late to the game.

I think there are plenty of good news sites out there, Newsvine is just taking some of the best aspects from a few of these and enriching and expanding on that. Also, I would not be too quick to judge, given that the recent leaks are just the beginning of what we’re going to know about Newsvine and their aspirations.

Mike D.

Oh Scrivsy… you were as right about that as you were that you’d finally beat me in fantasy football this year. That is to say, not right at all. :)

OhMyNews’s model involves quite a few full-time human editors and is a much more of a pure citizen journalism effort at this point in time. They are trailblazers for sure, but there’s more to be done in the field of next-gen news delivery than just citizen journalism.

One great thing online news is that there is room for a large handful of sites to succeed. A few large handfuls actually. Each effort brings something a little different to the table and it’s up to each reader to decide what’s best for them.

Charles Wu

One of the interesting things is there are parallels to the rise of VOIP and the rise of New Media, in that advocates assume that the raw material for both is implied to be free. In the case of VOIP, people assume that networks come for free, but forget there is a lot of infrastructure to support the networks. There’s a misconception that wireless networks work like walkie talkies and cell phones talk to each other, but mobile calls are routed through the terrestrial networks. SBC prez view that these web 2.0 and VOIP are “infrasurfing” the existing network. The raw material of connectivity for Web 2.0 and VOIP is treated as free, when it really is expensive to maintain.

The same thing is happening with news organizations. Most blogs and new media sites specialize in aggregation or analysis of others reporting, few actually do reporting of their own. Maintaining a reporting organization is hard and costly as is finding sources, doing background and fact checking. The number of reporters on staff in the field of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times is huge and we only see a small amount of the output on any given day. This like network infrastructure is not deployable in a day. Much of news ismerely parroting press releases and breaking news. Most of the blogs analyze that primary reporting, not generate their own. There are notable exceptions, but they are mostly deflating existing news (Rathergate for instance) instead of bringing up the story.

So are the blogosphere and technorati cutting their legs off at the knees disparaging old media, but using their work. Is it sufficient to go to a public radio model to support that primary reporting? Or does one have to charge subscriptions such as Times Select. VOIP and New Media unconsciously view infrastructure as an externalized cost, and their advocates have not internalized the contribution the old guard offer. What would happen if the old guard media shut down for a week? What would the blogosphere comment on?

Is web 2.0 and VOIP a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Old media is changing and needs to (Major Network News is a huge example, now merely parroting in video the primary reporting often of the print press). New media and new network services are going to have to figure out a way to acknowledge and support the soil they grow in, otherwise there will be a desert for all.

Glenn Fleishman

Nick Hanauer is a good guy to watch. He was the rainmaker for Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com, helping him raise the first million through $30,000 investments from about 30 Seattleites. Nick is part of the family that owns Pacific Coast Feather Company, a bedding firm of great age. PCF was one of my 1994-era company’s first Web client.

Nick parlayed the Amazon investment into other projects, notably Avenue A which also includes Aquantive, an ad software group.

Anything Nick puts money into is worth watching, therefore.

Om Malik

but its like ohmynews except different. i think between him and you guys, something could be happening. nicely…

Scrivs

I’m gonna kill Davidson. I told him his company was probably going to be like OhMyNews in July/August and he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about.

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