Armed with a smartphone, anyone can be a reporter. This is the idea behind NewsiT, a mobile ‘crowd-reporting’ platform that uses gamification to make reporting the news a collaborative, social, fun and rewarding experience.
Founded by experienced journalist Melinda Wittstock, who has worked for the Guardian, the Observer, ABC News, National Public Radio, and MSNBC, NewsiT is all about creating a new way to crowd-source content for news organizations. As this TechCrunch article explains, Wittstock wanted to reinvent the newsgathering and publishing model after attending “too many conferences with a lot of moaning and not a lot of solutions.”
While this is hardly the first attempt to crowdsource news reporting, the difference is that NewsiT doesn’t expect members to create a complete news report on their own. NewsiT staffers create assignments, then members contribute content–such as expert interviews, photos, video, quotes, survey questions or eyewitness accounts–to source together an article. With seasoned journalists providing oversight and editing, NewsiT can assure accuracy and quality in reporting.
Meanwhile, contributors can win points and badges, participate in contests and gain recognition when their work is featured in published news stories. Bloggers can increase traffic to their site, students can report on campus happenings, and activists can draw attention to issues and causes that matter. There’s also a social aspect since members can meet others who share common interests, or invite friends to collaborate on a project.
NewsiT’s mission is to ‘reinvent’ news and information creation and curation by engaging and rewarding citizens as mobile reporters. With a longtime journalist at the helm, a new iPhone app, strategic use of algorithms and game mechanics, and $500,000 in seed funding, the company seems poised to accomplish its goal.