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5 startups changing the way the news business delivers content

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It’s fair to say that the future of news consumption and media won’t look like a bunch of traditional newspapers copied onto the desktop web, and when five different entrepreneurs addressed paidContent Live Wednesday about the ways they’re bringing content online, the approaches were as diverse as the startups themselves.

However, a few themes came out of our presentations from Paul Berry, founder and CEO of RebelMouse, Jeff Fluhr, co-founder and CEO of Spreecast, Matt Galligan, co-founder and CEO of Circa, Aria Haghighi, co-Founder and CTO of Prismatic, and Josh Miller, co-founder of Branch. Here were the ones we found most compelling:

  • The future of news will come from other people. This isn’t to say that the majority of the world will eventually get all of their news from Twitter and Facebook (s fb), but it is fair to say that we’ll increasingly rely on recommendations and smarter social cues from friends and respected strangers as we sort through the vast amount of information available online. This could mean something like Prismatic, which as my colleague Mathew Ingram has written, is working to combine data from social media with individual interests to create a smarter social reader for news.
  • We’ll be reading all the news that fits — on mobile. For traditional sites, having a strategy that works for mobile is not longer an option, but we’ll increasingly see mobile-specific approaches from startups like Instagram, which was able to scale successfully by creating a simple, fast photo experience for mobile users in a hurry, or Circa, the startup that’s re-thinking how to structure news stories based on the attention spans and needs of mobile readers.  “We distill these important details into specific pages,” Galligan said. “You hop through and jump from point to point.”
  • It’s all about the individual person and the brand they build. Obviously individuals have always had a hand in shaping the news since the days of newspaper editors picking the stories that end up on the front page. But since the early days of blogging we’ve seen the rise of the personal brand grow in importance, and our panel earlier on Wednesday with some of the pre-eminent bloggers like Maria Popova and Andrew Sullivan only solidified the idea that smart, passionate writers can build their own readership online. Berry talked about how RebelMouse is allowing any individual, whether a famous blogger or not, to highlight personal achievements and content in one place, and with the rise of Twitter we’ll likely see this continue. “RebelMouse allows you in a very efficient way to say, let’s make this my splash,” he said.
  • People want to talk about the news but they’re looking for smart conversations. We’re moving on from the days of television round-tables and flame wars in comment threads — or at least many people are looking to move on. Several interesting tools have launched recently that allow for more dynamic conversations online about the news, and we’re seeing those conversations happen both in text and multimedia. Spreecast joins the likes of Google+ Hangouts in lettings users host video discussions with additional social components, and Branch is looking to re-invent online discussions by making them invite-only and embeddable across the web.
  • Traditional advertising can’t support the future, but no one’s clear what the alternative looks like. Some of our most heated discussions all day came from the discussion over how to make money from content in a way that allows writers and artists to benefit, consumers to enjoy reasonable prices, and businesses to stay afloat. From Popova discussing affiliate links to Buzzfeed discussing sponsored content, it’s clear we’re far from reaching a consensus. But from Prismatic’s efforts to work with brands to make money off their content on the service to Spreecast’s premium services, it’s clear that startups are at least considering smarter ways to approach the problem than traditional banner ads.

Check out the rest of our PaidContent Live 2013 coverage here.

11 Responses to “5 startups changing the way the news business delivers content”

  1. Everyone said that newspapers would die, but I think that the format is just changing from paper/traditional to digital. And saving a few trees is awesome, right? I know personally I’m already receiving news via websites and Twitter. Twitter is so instant, maybe even more instant than the news on the TV. The issues lie with the credibility of the source. But doesn’t mean an everyday person doesn’t have anymore credibility than a news anchor. During this day and age, sometimes news anchors present a story that is pure sensationalism rather than fact, which can be frustrating. I think there may be a shift or a pressure to keep people on the right track to stay influential to their audience or risk losing them.

  2. Carl Hartman

    We developed models for what we call “affinity content marketing” almost 15 years ago, when I was an executive at a major TV network. We already tested the concepts at the university level with various audiences. While people keep arguing the point, we’ve already developed models for the future of marketing brands and content online.

    I’m totally clear on the future and how content will be monetized. I was awarded the solo contract from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (out of 80+ submissions) as “the only viable model for the future of television. We tested our models and they work.

    Based on my research, Brand.gineering ( developed the model that will replace advertising. – There are good reasons why people don’t know they future, they don’t see how everything interconnects. – While everyone is generating buzz about vapor, we’ve had the answer.

  3. Chris Saad

    You might want to check out Echo ( We serve 30 Billion API calls for Major media like NASDAQ, ESPN, ABC, AMC, UMG, Washington Post etc etc – transforming their core sites into realtime, social experiences.


  4. The Worker

    There is a new app called Umano, news on the go! I am a great fan of this app. Get to consume valuable news & articles while driving to work or doing something else.

  5. Derek Jones

    Alongside this is how the content is provided and from where.
    Do take a look at Newsflare – – where UGC news-worthy video (amateur and professional) can be uploaded swiftly – but having being verified first by Newsflare. And contributors are paid too. Newsflare is already providing content to major UK broadcasters and publishers. The Guardian’s new Witness shows this is the way to go – but with Newsflare model the contributors get famous AND get paid.

  6. Very rough idea, but what about crowdsourcing combined with social reporting, people can pay a small fee per month to follow reporters or a group of reporters, when the quality goes down, funding stops. Might be a better way of controlling the correct level of news and get rid of a lot of false news. As I said, rough idea, need some serious polish.