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Howdy, partner…

The development team have been working flat out over the past few weeks in not only radically redesigning the entire site – a significant departure from the rough and ready Beta v1 site you can see now – (set for roll out by the end of the year) but also in building our Partner Channel feature which is scheduled for testing from November 09.

The premise of the Partner Channel is pretty simple: as a platform, indiconews can help organizations crowd-source relevant content for their news gathering needs, civic reporting, community issues, campaigns, research, event-based coverage etc.

This also means that if you’re a newspaper/news organization our system helps manage the pro/am gap – enabling you to securely generate relevant content for your publications via our Partner Channel features through targeted assignments and tip-offs that our users can respond to in an organized and meaningful way.

Indiconews: bridging the pro/am gap

Indiconews: bridging the pro/am gap

Partner Channels not only give users the opportunity to represent their communities, share their news, post updates on emerging stories, discuss issues relevant to their interest/location, but as a partner, they also give you the tools to bring the content creators into your news gathering process in a relevant, yet empowering way. By embracing this rich resource you will have a deeper understanding of the audience and communities you serve – and in turn the communities will embrace you.

So, we’re looking for innovative organisations, groups, news and media outlets, other websites, higher education establishments, charities, documentary makers etc to test our offering.

We will have a working prototype ready by mid-Nov, but are keen to roll up our sleeves and get in front of potential partners to showcase this resource, answer questions and get you to sign up to test the system for yourselves.

We at indiconews want to be part of a new generation of logical, relevant crowd-sourced collaborative pro/am platforms, and think our Partner Channel development is a step in the right direction.

Regardless, we’re always on the look out to create meaningful collaborations, connections or knowledge-sharing activities with any organisation that, like us, wants to push the civic media envelope, wherever they are in the world.

Please get in touch directly: e.hodgson@indiconews.com

Thanks.

Elizabeth Hodgson – indiconews founder

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Crunch day

We’re off to TechCrunch London today. The event is hosted by TechCrunch Europe editor, Mike Butcher.

The spiel on TC site of the even says: “The “TechCrunch London” event is themed “Startups in a cold climate: getting real in the recession”. But although the title of the session sounds downbeat, the reality is that the recession has created many opportunities for startups, something we’ll be exploring. Like all TechCrunch events, it is designed to bring together startups, seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and key industry players for sharing of knowledge and great networking, TechCrunch style.

The supported by Seedcamp, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Bootlaw the free boot camp for emerging technology, internet and digital professionals run by Winston & Strawn, as well as the Press Association.”

We’re going along in order to attend seminars, and of course network. Our friends from Comufy will be there for the later part of the event (they’re busy attending Seedcamp Week!). Comufy is a fantastic start up that aims to be the next generation in communications. (It’s a system that we’re implementing into our site in Nov as part of our new design roll out).

We’ll be tweeting from the event – so follow our day: #indiconews

What’s the real cost of the Paywall?

OPINION: I’ve been thinking, a lot, about Rupert Murdoch’s crusade to get News International’s online news content behind a paywall. There are arguments on the pro’s and con’s on both sides (pro: research intensive specialist content like Wall Street Journal and FT.com) but it will come as no surprise that I think the creation and sharing of information should not, on the whole, be confined by the rules of a single organisation.

I also think this shines a light on a far bigger issue. Old school media is on its knees because it’s still playing by old school rules and the discussion of a paywall only compounds this.

The thing is, everything changed in the mid to late 1990’s with the arrival of Lycos, Yahoo, Altavista and then of course, Google. Hurtle forward 15 years and you’re seeing mainstream media in a panic. So what do they do? They default back to the only solution they know: force ’em to pay.

But will they? In a recent survey, only 5% of UK respondents said they were prepared to pay for online news while 74% said they would find another free site.

Also take it on a step further – if you force people to pay, might it actually isolate mainstream media from the rest of the mobile phone wielding, podcasting, image sharing, video uploading, networked world; a world where a single image posted to a (free) social media site can change the political direction of an entire nation?

As founder of an online civic media site, I am bound to say that. After all, I want our platform to challenge the view that news, information and opinion have always to come from one source. These days we can all engage in the news process in a way that frees us from hierarchical mechanisms – primarily thanks to technology.

Mumbai massacre, Hudson River plane crash, Iran elections, Zimbabwe farm razings, Michael Jackson’s death: these stories were broken by “ordinary” people, for free and without limitation.

So for me, the answer is simple: collaborate.

Just think about the millions of other stories and events that go unreported in this world every day – where leads and eyewitness accounts can help build a whole picture and dare I say, force change where change is needed.

I fundamentally believe mainstream news organisations and the thousands of professional journalists play a vital role in this world – and here is an opportunity for them to reinforce their relevance. They can help make sense of the senseless. They can find the voice of reason in the sonic boom of hyperbole. Surely mainstream media would be giving their right arm for a piece of this crowd-sourced action?

Of course, I hope indiconews will be the place for such collaboration, where established news organisations and the general public can work together in the creation and delivery of news.

That’s why we set up the platform: instead of excluding people, the ones who in essence MAKE the news, we should, no, must, include them in the news agenda. Empower them, engage with them, embrace them. Give them the tools, the platform, the opportunity to represent their communities, to create new ones, share their experiences and then bring them into your news gathering process.

Why? Because we’re going to do it with or without you anyway.

Maybe Murdoch will prove he can make his paywall work. Then again, maybe his organisation should be careful not to cut off its nose to spite its face.

Elizabeth Hodgson – Indiconews.com founder

Will the door finally open for grassroots media?

This post on Paid Content has been kicking around for the last week or so, but it has some interesting – and I think apt – observations that include:

Publishers and enthusiasts must work together
Community contributors must be properly rewarded
City papers should stop competing with nationals, return to their neighbourhoods
Realise readers already have direct-data news

Read the full post here.

We’re off to the Media Standards Trust news innovation “unconference”

The upcoming Media Standards Trust News Innovation “Unconference” on July 10 should be a great opportunity for journalists, developers and innovators to start talking about ideas and solutions for the news industry.

Martin Moore of the MST said in the Guardian: “”Everyone is fixated by doom and gloom around print. We wanted to start to get together people who are doing interesting things and get journalists and developers together.”

And about time too. There are some fantastic things going on “out there” and the fact that more people than ever are signing up to journalist courses is proof that there is a passion and hunger for journalism.

True, the news industry landscape isn’t the same as it was just five years ago – but change is being seen in so many other parts of or lives too. After all it’s not just print news that is having to adjust and adapt to this brave new world; the impact of economics and technology is being felt everywhere, from local shops to the city council.

However, technology – or more precisely people’s access to and engagement with it – means the “journalism” rule books are being ripped up. And for the first time ever, we the people can have a say on how they’re re-written, from bloggers to civic media sites, students to established news outlets, and mash-ups to aps. Who knows, maybe the rule books will never be re-written, just adapted and tweeked in true beta style.

But one thing is clear: we’re never going to go back to the heady days of the mighty printing empires, (just as the car industry will never see the days of Henry Ford ever again).

Yes, we need to look at ways of creating robust news delivery, make sure investigative journalism is supported, and try to avoid “churnalism” (which is rife in “professional” journalism as it is). We need to ensure our elective representatives are kept in check, that injustice is exposed, and that we can all absorb and engage with news in a meaningful way. We also need to ensure those without access to the mighty mobile or web (and there are millions upon millions out there) can still engage in the news process. In short, we need to be able to trust our news – but also be confident to ask and face tough questions without blinkered hysteria.

So instead of shouting each other down, I believe this “unconference” will provide people with the platform and opportunity to actually create some real solutions – or at least start the process and think a bit more out of the box.

On July 10 let’s not be scared. Let’s be innovators.

Indiconews.com: a different reporting perspective

Welcome to the first indiconews.com blog post.

For those of you who don’t know about us, we’re a UK-based fledgling global civic media site.

A true bootstrapped start-up (we’re 100% self funded), we’re working hard to engage various sectors, empowering them to participate in the news agenda as contributors, collaborators and news ‘definers’ as opposed to just observers.

When I meet with people to explain indiconews.com, I often use the term 3D news – and by that I don’t mean you don a pair of two-tone glasses and settle in front of your PC for some 50’s-style news reel film.

3D news is this: you not only know the details of the past news (the who, what, when, where’s etc) but also the why’s and what happens next.

Our position always starts from you, the users perspective; you have told us how you want to engage with the site on different levels – be it as reporters, assigners, commentators, eyewitnesses, interviewees or simply readers. We also have created a site where you can engage with news on as targeted or wide scope as you want – be it via following specific reporters, categories or location-based news… or a combination of all three.

Indiconews.com allows you to not only report but also set assignments and where appropriate, to connect stories together – link assignments with previous articles or interviews (infact our ‘interview me’ service matches expert insight with reporter’s questions), build layers to their story, create depth and help the end-user understand the wider impact.

Organizing this has been tricky and by no means suggest we have created the final product (we are Beta after all).

However, we are trying new approaches and attempting to think out of the box. In fact, sites like ours are like any new fashion, arts or music scene; we arrange tracks in new an interesting ways and see what comes out of the mix. In time perhaps the ‘tracks’ that work might be picked up by you the user and mashed up into something new.

The site is also proof that innovation is alive and kicking.

Site such as ours and other similar start-ups are not waiting to be asked by established media organisations to come up with potential road maps on how to engage the user in the news agenda. We’re getting on with it. Some of us will succeed, some will not – but we hope we will all learn and like true innovators, take a different news perspective. So take a deep breath, and find your voice at http://www.indiconews.com.