The founder discusses her inspiration, methods and goals.
Question: What is GroundReport?
Rachel Sterne: GroundReport.com is a citizen news reporting site that allows anyone to publish their own articles, videos, and photos to a global audience and earn a revenue share based on their traffic. All of our work is vetted by our volunteer editors and you can reach an audience of millions, some of our big scoops have been the Beijing Olympics, the Mumbai Terrorist attacks, Taliban activity in Pakistan and then even in our backyard covering Obama's elections through the eyes and words of regular Americans, we have 5,000 contributors on the ground who regularly submits stories every day.
Question: Who reports for GroundReport?
Rachel Sterne: Building GroundReport's basis has been completely deliberate. It's not a typical Internet start up where you just want to get as many people as possible. We're looking for a very sophisticated digital reporter who is able to convey what's going on from the ground level. So we want two things. We want them to be savvy enough to use the digital reporting tools but also want them to be on the ground, hyper local to report exactly on what they are witnessing in their immediate vicinity. We don't want someone who is sitting at a desk in New York and writing about Pakistan. We want a Pakistani lawyer who was protesting the day before to be writing about Pakistan. So I've been very deliberate in doing outreach to journalistic bloggers, professional journalist retired or students in training and then also non-profits, a lot of people who happen to be witnessing some of the world most urgent issues there on the ground but lack the proper platform to get the board out.
Question: What is the editorial process?
Rachel Sterne: The vetting process happens at the report level so anyone can sign up and report immediately and submit reports, articles, videos, etcetera for publication but it won't go live until one of our editors takes a look at it. So anyone is allowed to do that. That way we don't miss the big scoops. We open up the door in that way but we need that layer of approval for it to really make sure that it's up to our standards and to be able to stand behind our brand name.
Question: Who is your audience?
Rachel Sterne: One of the biggest things about hyper-local news that is covering, covering issues and events at a level even more granular than the city level is that most of those topics are really most interesting to the other people who are living in that area. So of course a lot of GroundReport coverage that's specific will be interesting to people for instance American audiences and just audiences all over the world, who want to know what 's really happening in the world, who recognize that the international media is not serving its goal to really inform the public and so they are interested in this stories too and they rely on GroundReport to sort of aggregate and vet all of this information that is coming in and give you real picture of, okay here's what people on the Ground experiencing this event feel about it, here's what the real story is.
Question: Why do you insist on original reporting?
Rachel Sterne: The only thing that we mean with the original content policy is it means you must have the rights to distribute whatever you post on GroundReport. So we're very happy to work with people who are reposting from their blog or from independent new sourcing. In fact they're some of our most valuable partners. What we don't allow is copyright infringement or plagiarism which actually is pretty rampant on a lot of citizen journalism platforms and that's because our biggest value at GroundReport, and we've made our name on this, is by having sophisticated original content and original reporting and that also helps us to pursue a syndication model. We can't syndicate other people's content. It's also something that doesn't really serve us in the end and it's not the kind of contributors we are looking for so we're happy to adhere to that policy.
Recorded on: June 12, 2009