(AFP) – Jul 10, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — Virtual news-gathering website NowPublic said Thursday it has bought rumor-backing Truemors to go beyond eye witness accounts to exposing developments "bubbling under the hood."
The deal, for an undisclosed amount, expands the news coverage of the Vancouver-based NowPublic, which delivers news and events recorded by eyewitnesses using their own digital cameras and even mobile phones.
Co-founder Len Brody has built NowPublic into a formidable news gathering operation which boasts more than 100,000 "very active" contributors in more than 6,000 cities and 160 countries.
Brody told AFP in an exclusive interview that NowPublic, which bills itself as "crowd-powered," has bought year-old Truemors, a year-old website devoted to amassing sources that back the credibility of rumors buzzing on the Internet.
"We are now the largest user-generated news website in the world," Brody said. "Part of user-generated news is unearthing the buzz."
A brain child of venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, Truemors lets users read, write, discuss and rate rumors.
Truemors will remain an independent company based in the Northern California city of Palo Alto and Kawasaki becomes chair of NowPublic's advisory board.
Truemors staff ranges from five to 10 people that vet user submissions before posting them in categories including business, entertainment, sports, sex, odd, and "crap."
"Truemors believes in the democratization of information" Kawasaki said in a release.
"Access for everyone to everything, as well as demonstrative technology-products that enable the open exhibition and expression of information, emotions, and opinions."
NowPublic plans to reverse the vetting standard of proving rumors true before posting them. Brody believes extensive and immediate feedback from online readers will separate truth from falsehood.
"We want the editorial policy to match NowPublic's and be wide open," Brody said. "We want to give you innocent-until-proven-guilty. Truemors was the other way around, it had to be proven and true before."
NowPublic will mesh Truemors content into its website, ideally providing amateur news hounds stories to sniff out, Brody said.
"Truemorists are digging in the four corners of the web for the status of the rumor mill at any moment," Brody said.
"It will drive leads to our members for stories going on around the world and give our readers a look at what's bubbling under the hood."
Brody wouldn't disclose precise figures of traffic to NowPublic and Truemors but said combined readership is in the millions.
NowPublic claims extensive followings in Europe and Asia, with more than 1,000 contributors in India alone.
But Brody shuns the label "citizen journalist," saying it is tantamount to branding someone a "citizen dentist."
"The truth is journalism is an art form," Brody said. "Calling someone a citizen journalist just doesn't make sense. What we are is an army of eyes and ears to witness what is going on and work with journalists."
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