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Ronile 53
Ronile 53

Newsgrape: take the pick of the bunch

by Rebecca Sandbichler · written on January 9th, 2011 · lies diesen Eintrag auf Deutsch

Youtube for text. That’s how the founders of Newsgrape sum up their concept, which they plan to revolutionize journalism with. CIRCUS talked to Vienna based Felix Häusler (left) and his colleague Leo Fasbender from London – about how they will handle comments on their site and which options they plan to give their users. You can help the young startup by visiting the crowd funding website kickstarter.com and giving them some serious money. All the best for this interesting crew!

Felix, you don’t really come across journalism a lot at university. Where does your fascination for this business derive from?

Journalism is affecting anyone who unfolds a newspaper or takes his information from the web. Even tough I love writing I still am a consumer. And in that role I have to ask myself which way news took before they came to me, how much truth lies within them and which sources I can trust.

I am moved very much by the future of print media and quality journalism, look fascinated on the blogging phenomena and our constant stream of information and I notice how the distrust in news has grown in our society. These are just a few of the topics I am concerned with when it comes to this business.

Your plans sound big. Will Newsgrape have editors?

An editorial office in the usual meaning isn’t planned. But there probably will have to be professionals with a background in journalism who for example feature special articles on the homepage.

Not everything that says „user generated“ really is self made, but rather copied. How will you handle copy right?

Text can automatically be compared to already existing content in our system – so such an article won’t be published in the first place. Also there will be certain options to indicate copy right infringements as an author or a publishing company. Online it is fairly easy to see which is the original and which isn’t.

How will you handle community management?

You can indicate insulting or even illegal comments as a user and we will handle it right away. If multiple readers alarm the system about a certain comment, it will be blocked before we even get to reading it. In addition we are big fans of semantic web technologies and will try to solve many problems in that area with them.

Already known bloggers shall get the possibility to reach more readers via Newsgrape. Have you already promoted the platform actively in that community and are there already writers who joined you?

We are in direct contact with many bloggers. At least twenty emails reach each of us every days in which we get to know the questions and ideas of our future writers and readers. We are very concerned by the opinion of all those people and try to put as much of their ideas as possible in the pre-beta already. People feel that we don’t develop without thinking of their needs. When we reach our financial goal on Kickstarter we will have a lot of writers who will join us right from the beginning.

In the article published about you by the German Newspaper „Die Zeit”, Felix mentioned that authors will receive up to 75 percent of ad revenue. In your video you talked about 60 percent. Have you changed plans?

Yes. We made this video for talks with potential investors. When we were chosen for the kickstarter program we had to come up with a multilingual page right away and couldn’t edit it anymore. But we have re-thougt our revenue-system with London business students a while ago and decided to give our authors as much as possible – that’s why you can earn up to 75 percent now.

If I have all my favorite blogs already in feedreader – why should I use Newsgrape where my options are limited to the platform?

No, your sources aren’t limited to Newsgrape – it has a feedreader too. With registration you can comment on every article, subscribe to certain authors or magazines and mark them as favorites. Also you can found your own magazines or join them, use our system for short messages („fastnews“ as we call them), profit from one of the best search engines for journalistic texts on the web and learn about new interesting content – sorted by quality – everyday. Who knows how many new „favorite bloggers“ you will have on Newsgrape?

You want to provide media partners with the possibility to publish short versions of texts or even teasers on Newsgrape. Couldn’t it become frustrating for your users to be guided away from you page all the time?

Right now most people are used to this kind of experience, because freedreaders often work that way. Our partnership program is meant for big publishing companies that can’t or won’t over think their current strategy as quickly. It’s not ideal but a good start. Most content on Newsgrape will be completely on the platform tough.

Will you limit Newsgrape strictly to text? Or will their be photo series and videos too?

Photo series have been planned right from the beginning and will be an option in early 2011. Videos will be possible too.

It will possible to found „magazines“ on Newsgrape. What options will the editors have? And how much is already done by your algorithm?

Magazines can have their own banner, logo and individual categories. In a magazine you can be Editor in Chief, editor or columnist. Editors in Chief manage the magazine and decide for authors and articles.

The great thing for columnists is that they reach a much broader audience, because they don’t only have their own readers but also the subscribers of the magazines they give their texts too. our algorithm will sort the texts in the whole system, but magazine are created solely by the Editor in Chief.

The photo platform flickr is very strong because of the great tagging discipline of its users. Will you reward comments and tagging?

We will use a system of awards, which we will present in spring.

Can you also imagine to create some sort of paid club membership someday?

No. We don’t want to have this distinction between paying and not paying users. But we wouldn’t want to say no to early on professional “develper accounts” for publishing companies, for example.

Advertising still is an issue. How do you plan on raising interest within the advertising customers? Do you work with professional advertising marketers?

A successful Newsgrape will reach commercial customers just by the quality of its content. Right now we are working with an advertisement-system with the working title „SYL“. It will provide evolved banner advertising and help multiplying the conversion rate. Right now we can’t tell you too much about it.

You also want to start Newsgrape in the US. Is the interest in civic journalism more evolved there?

We think so, yes. At least the distrust in classical journalism is. Also, bloggers don’t imitate traditional journalists as much as their colleagues in Europe, which often follow the rules of print media.

Right now you seem to be working pretty hard. Doesn’t a nine-to-five-job sound very enticing to you?

No :-) – We are working our 14 to 16 hours a day at the moment. But at least we get the feeling to be moving forward and creating something special on our own. You can’t beat that. Of course there are people who like to have more certainty and want to know what the next day is going to bring. But we are more the “no risk- no fun” kind of guys.

You already invested one years worth of work. What are you going to go, if you don’t come up with enough funding, until your project on Kickstarter ends on 16th of January?

There is a plan B for everything. But right now we don’t think of that because we want to give as much as possible for Newsgrape.

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