Introducing, Newsvine

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 …

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