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In March of this year, I was on a panel with Leonard Brody, CEO and co-founder of NowPublic. At the time, he was in the process of raising a series A round, and responding (as was I) to negative attacks about the value and growth of citizen journalism.
NowPublic is a Canadian site that allows people anywhere to report a story, upload a photo, or offer comment about what they feel is news. Brody can now have the momentary last laugh. NowPublic just raised $10.6 million, enabling Brody to prove out his thesis that the average person can contribute invaluable information to the news.
I'm certain Andrew Keen, who is an opportunist and an alarmist, is fuming that the world is coming to an end. Keen is against citizen journalism, mostly because he has little foresight and wisdom about history. He had this to say in his book: "If we keep up this pace, there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010, collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics to commerce, to arts and culture." Keen is the author of "The Cult of the Amateur: How the Democratization of the Digital World Is Assaulting Our Economy, Our Culture and Our Values."
Back in March, Keen voiced his disagreement against citizen journalism during a panel discussion where Brody and I were defending the contributions of users to the news-gathering process.
As a founder of Vator.tv, of couse, I'm all for citizen journalism. The pitches that the community creates are news in and of themselves. And, our increase in membership proves that the information the Vator.tv community provides is useful. In March, when I met Brody, Vator.tv was barely up and running. Today, the number of members have tripled since launching in June. Back in March, two-year-old NowPublic, had 70,000 volunteer reporters producing 600 stories a day. Today, NowPublic looks like it has nearly 120,000 members/volunteers in 140 countries.
Citizen journalism is here to stay. Everyone better get used to it.
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