5 pioneering Web sites that could totally change the news
Thursday, May 20th 2010, 4:00 AM
With the profound interaction of media and technology, Web sites have transformed how news is disseminated.
Just as YouTube, Twitter, and Digg altered the way information is exchanged, these five buzz-worthy Web sites, carefully chosen by Samuel Axon at Mashable, have a chance of doing the same.
Purportedly started by a Chinese nonconformist and a small group of volunteers, this site airs politicians’ dirty laundry, exposing scandals and controversies. WikiLeaks accepts submissions of confidential political documents, reviews them to determine accuracy and relevance, then publishes them for mass consumption. Most notable among its publications: hacked e-mails sent by 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, particulars on the United States’ Guantanamo Bay dealings, and a video of U.S. soldiers launching an airstrike.
This local blog, owned by The Chicago Tribune, features volunteer coverage of anything and everything in Chicago. Not only does this fully-functional mobile Web site publish 100 posts per day, but it encourages community participation with its extensive comment and feedback sections.
This is as local as local news gets. EveryBlock delivers information to you within a few hundred feet of where you’re standing. This site pools everything from restaurant reviews to crime statistics from databases. Your news coverage is then selected based on your geographical location. The intrigue of this hyperlocal site, started in Chicago, is most palpable on the iPhone app, where you can use the device’s GPS. EveryBlock users can contribute to the newsfeed, adding to the sea of information.
While a site in a similar vein to ChicagoNow and EveryBlock, Fwix takes a slightly different approach. Fwix collects stories from local blogs and mainstream news publications, rather than from citizen journalists. Notably, Fwix extends beyond itself: by clicking the “Like” button, the article appears on your Facebook and by selecting “Share,” the story is sent to friends within your Fwix network.
With everything customizable, from television programming to take-out meals, there’s finally news-on-demand. Spot.Us, serving San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, allows community members to commission investigative journalism stories. The process starts with a concerned or curious person’s pitch. Then, Spot.Us journalists assess the cost of reporting and the community funds the project through the site’s donation tab. With each story published under Creative Commons license, these articles are kept in the public’s hands. In the case that a news outlet covers more than half the cost, it can claim temporary ownership of the story.
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