I'm fascinated by the intersection of tech and story. I've been exploring how technology influences the way we tell "Story" for over 20 years. The printing press influenced storytelling, early photography (called "the mirror with a memory" when it first appeared) changed it, film, TV, CD ROMs, web, smartphones are all influencers on storytelling.
The challenge is to see the new tech not as a way to port existing techniques to the new, like laying a legacy newspaper format online, but to explore what is intrinsic to the new tech. How can a short video enhance a text-based story? How do links enrich an article. How about interactivity: articles no longer need be linear but can move between media, timelines, even other articles.
One of the first tools we are introducing on CrowdNews to help journalists explore the ways technology can influence “Story” is our “Newstream®.” Newstreams give our member journalists the freedom to define the life of a story. A Newstream consists of components of information and content that comprise a story, presented over time. We call each component of a Newstream a “Dispatch". A Dispatch can be a text article, a video clip, a map, an audio file, other media, or a combination of all of them. (More about Newstreams)
So here’s an exercise: imagine a story you want to write. Now imagine what might be missing using only the written word, say a story that references a particular sound. Maybe it’s about a musical instrument, or an elephant’s cry, or the different sounds car designers are anticipating putting on the new silent electric cars. Adding an audio file to a written text lets your audience experience that story in a much richer way.
Digital media allows us to hear a part of a story that should be heard rather than read about.
What I’m really excited about is exploring how a journalist could use virtual reality to tell a story. With VR, a journalist could physically guide me around the grassy knoll where Kennedy was shot, take me on an exploration of an Ebola clinic, explain monetary policy, put me on the field of an NFL game.
But that’s a ways off yet. While William Gibson's books aren’t specifically about journalism and storytelling (even though he tells great stories), his works have been a big influence on my vision of technology-influenced storytelling and journalism. In Spook Country Gibson introduced me to locative art.
The first strand of the novel follows Hollis Henry...a freelance journalist. She is hired by advertising mogul Hubertus Bigend to write a story for his nascent magazine Node (described as a European Wired) about the use of locative technology in the art world.
Wikipedia talks about Location-based media:
Location-based media (LBM) delivers multimedia and other content directly to the user of a mobile device dependent upon their location. Location information determined by means such as mobile phone tracking and other emerging Real-time locating system technologies like Wi-Fi or RFID can be used to customize media content presented on the device. – Wikipedia Locative Media
One of our core beliefs at CrowdNews is that journalists should have the freedom to define the life of a story without it being time-boxed,24-hour-news-cycled, or truncated.
We think journalists, to explore and accurately report on our world, must be given the opportunity to tell a story in its fullest.
CrowdNews introduces the Newstream. Newstreams give our member journalists the freedom to define the life of a story.
A Newstream consists of components of information and content that comprise a story, presented over time.
We call each component of a Newstream a Dispatch. A Dispatch can be a text article, a video clip, a map, an audio file, or other media.
A complete Newstream might be one dispatch, or 30. It might all be presented in one day, or over the course of a year. It might take the form of text, or video, or audio, or a combination. (CrowdNews is media agnostic.)
Our audience subscribes to specific Newstreams, not to CrowdNews itself.
When you subscribe to a Newstream, you support that particular journalist.
The majority of your support for that Newstream will go to the journalist, not CrowdNews.
We are dedicated to the survival of quality journalism.
I've got an interesting discussion going on in a LinkedIn group and thought I'd share a bit of it here:
One of the things that really excites me about building CrowdNews is that we're building a platform where we provide the tools, marketing, and most importantly, the marketplace to our journalists.
We don't, however, define how a each journalist should use our platform. We don't define what stories you, as journalist, will add to CrowdNews. While we will require you to follow the ethical guidelines and rules of conduct we establish, each journalist takes charge of their own stories, and creates the best text, video, or audio content they can.
One of our jobs is to give you the tools to reach your audience. And remember, that your audience isn't necessarily restricted geographically. A story created for one locale may be very relevant to another audience member in another part of the country or another part of the globe.
But now, in the Digital Age, we really need a new model.
And that new model is CrowdNews. We are rebooting the news. We do three things to change the news for both the audience and the journalist.
We connect the news audience directly to the journalists they support: no middleman of The New York Times, FOX News, or CNN. Just a direct connection between audience and journalist.
The CrowdNews audience decides what news is valuable to them, without the filter of Big Media.
Our audience gets exactly the news they want, on the topics they care about, at the price they want.
CrowdNews journalists take charge of their own careers: they have the freedom to choose which stories to explore; they build their own reputations; and they get paid each and every time their work is consumed.
We connect the audience directly to the journalist.
Our audience decides what news is valuable to them.
We make sure the journalist gets paid for their work.
Big Media's been in charge for a long time. We think it's time that you were in charge.
Here’s one of the big questions that we ask ourselves at CrowdNews:
In this online world, how can journalists get paid fairly for their work?
Today, legacy news organizations slash budgets and slash staff as ad revenues dry up. Because of this, the quality and quantity of news has suffered. The audience no longer gets the news they want and need but are fed an overabundance of sports, traffic, and weather. They’ve gotten frustrated and have abandoned traditional news outlets.
Partial solutions to this problem include online versions of main stream media, news aggregation, and blogging. But the paywalls that main stream media erect only supports the institution, not the individual journalists. News aggregators re-post existing content, essentially gathering the news for free, but the journalist, the actual content creator, receives no direct benefit. Bloggers can be isolated creators with limited reputation, no marketplace, and little or no earnings.
So what’s the CrowdNews answer?
Well firstly, we place the creator of the content at our very core. We build an innovative online marketplace that enables a direct connection between the journalist and the audience. This allows the audience to purchase their content directly from the content creator through our marketplace. By directly supporting the journalists they follow, the audience receives the quality news and content they desire, on the topics they care about, at the price they want. This direct funding empowers journalists with a new path for career and financial success.
Everybody wins: the CrowdNews audience gets the news they want and our participating journalists take charge of their own careers.