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Vancouver-based NowPublic.com, the citizen journalism news site which recently signed a deal with AP to collaborate on coverage, has received a relatively big $10.6 million in its first formal round of funding. The round was led by Rho Ventures, based in U.S., and its affiliate Rho Canada, and included Brightspark and the Working Opportunity Fund, managed by GrowthWorks Capital, both of which participated in the earlier $1.4 million seed round. The company claims this funding is “the largest single commitment to citizen generated news yet assembled by a company in the category.” First, not really true (Ohmynews got $11 million last year), and secondly, big funding amounts don’t really mean much, certainly in a still tough-to-make-a-business area like citizen journalism.
The company says the site has contributors in over 140 countries and 3,600 cities, with 100,000 contributing reporters. The company says it has expanded its deal with AP to include working with AP’s bureaus across the U.S., and has begun working with AP bureaus serving Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago, with more to come.
Updated: Further calling the company’s bluff, read this interview on Gigaom, and count the red flags. Here’s one: “‘We’re personally not big believers in paying for content, because we want you to own your content.’ Instead, NowPublic offers the possibility of a paid syndication deal with the AP. In the future, using some of its funding, the company wants to create a point system based on frequency and quality of participation — but not individual contributions — that might end up in financial rewards.” And then the zinger: local doesn’t matter. What he really means: local’s hard as hell.