Writers Unite and Lead the Way to the News of Tomorrow

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The world is clearly in the midst of a revolution in news reporting and consumption. A century ago the only reliable source for news was the newspaper and printed materials. This was how it had been for hundreds of years, almost since the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

Then came radio, which many thought would replace newspapers, yet found its own unique niche. Radio, although giving more up-to-date information than papers, also provided news sequentially. One story followed another, and listeners had little choice as to what they were learning about or when they were going to learn about it. Newspapers still offered consumers a choice of what news to focus on and what news to pass over or read later.

Television, and in particular 24 hour cable news channels such as CNN, added a visual element that radio lacked, but in most other ways differed little from radio in the way the news was presented. Even with the addition of multiple cable news channels catering to different needs, most viewers are still captive to the stories anchors and producers want them to see. Since these networks are all in competition for viewers, many of them report on the same stories at the same time, ignoring all else in the rush to keep consumers from changing channels. Newspapers still fill a need not being filled elsewhere.

Then came the internet. Now consumers finally have a means of accessing the news they want on the topics that interest them. The internet is a written, auditory, and visual phenomenon, combining the best of all these mediums in one. Newspapers had at last met their match. For the first time major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post began bleeding red ink.

But for the internet to truly fill the void that may soon be created by the death of the printed press, one obstacle needs to be overcome. The obstacle is that of veracity. The issue of truth in reporting was raised when fraudulent stories were uncovered in papers such as the NY Times. The issue cannot now be avoided by internet news sources, either. How can we be sure the news we are reading is true?

Houston-based Extensions, Inc., developers of the EXT social network, are taking aim at the challenge of internet news distribution with their new Newswire social network. The network will harness the talents of some of the 12 million independent writers already blogging and reporting on the news over the internet, but who do not have the backing of a news agency. Because these independent writers have no credentials or status, their work is often suspect, and they also have a harder time than their credentialed peers in getting access to news sources, press conferences and other information.

Newswire will review five pieces of original work from everyone who wishes to be part of their social network. After a writer’s work has been evaluated for content and quality, a writer will be asked to review and agree to Newswire’s code of conduct. Any writer that is found to have broken that code can be disciplined or removed by Newswire’s editors. Approved members of the network will receive proof of their status as Newswire journalists, and will have the backing of Newswire’s editorial board who can vouch for their status.

By being a member of Newswire, writers will have access to paying work writing press releases for businesses and organizations. At the same time they will be able to continue their freelance work with the added benefit of being able to establish a certain level of trust with their audience. Essentially Newswire will have provided a level of legitimacy and credibility to the writers who are the future of the world’s news: independent journalists and reporters.

What has driven newspapers under is their high overhead costs, including salaried journalists. What has stood in the way of the internet filling the void that will be left by those papers is concern over the truthfulness of news written by “freelancers.” Newswire will be the market leader for internet news gathering services that will build trust with consumers and provide them with an even wider variety of news than they could previously receive.

Radio and television competed against newspapers, and found their own nitch. Newswire will combine the best of radio, television and newspapers to become the next great media outlet.