NBC News has acquired a start-up to help it provide news faster by harnessing the power of live reporting from citizen journalists. The start-up, Stringwire, allows NBC to collect videos from around the world at its studios for faster news reports.
The New York Times reported NBC's acquisition of Stringwire on Sunday but it was later confirmed by Stringwire developer Phil Groman and NBC News Digital Chief Officer Vivian Schiller.
Without Stringwire, NBC -- and other large news media -- have had a hard time reporting on the must current topics due to cutbacks in foreign correspondents. Stringwire works by looking for people tweeting about a certain event and then sending them a link to share more information. The link prompts them to shoot video of the event, and once they do, Stringwire collects the video on its servers and will now send it straight to NBC.
Growth of Citizen Journalism
Over the past five years, citizen journalism through non-corporate platforms as well as through CNN, Fox and others has grown exponentially. Services like Allvoices, which launched in 2008, have been able to surpass CNN's iReport service in terms of traffic, and proven there are a large number of would-be journalists in the world who simply need a place to share their information.
Anyone can contribute to certain platforms like Allvoices, but there are restrictions on the reports that get shared with CNN or with NBC News, now that they have Stringwire. Even with the restrictions, citizen journalism is becoming the backbone of many stories throughout the world, especially in countries that are not normally in the spotlight.
In many cases, citizen journalism has allowed for more extensive and detailed reports rather than shorter ones normally provided by a large news agency like NBC News. As a result, larger corporations have actually experienced the negative effects of growing citizen journalism and are now trying to partner with it to avoid falling behind.
If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
Now that citizen journalism is catching on and is even taking some of the traffic away from corporate media, the larger news agencies are trying to join in to avoid being shut out. CNN's iReport now helps CNN provide articles regarding topics around the world without using their own employees. In 2011, CNN cut more than 50 staff who would have normally carried cameras around to various locations. With iReport, they were no longer necessary.
NBC News has not offered much citizen journalism. With Stringwire, it obviously hopes to change that. While NBC has dabbled in citizen journalism before, it has never had its equivalent of CNN's iReport, which has grown enough to include annual awards.
Before acquisition of Stringwire, the only way to offer stories or information to NBC was to send an e-mail.