With the events that took place in Iran last year, the Mumbai bombings and even the plane crash on the Hudson River, there’s no doubt of the power of citizen journalism in today’s media age. Whether it be through social media sites, such as Twitter or through news sites catered towards citizen journalism, the active voice of the eyewitness is now a significant part of any story taking place in the world. Citizen journalism platform AllVoices is seeing significant use traction and is giving its rivals ( many of which are similar sites started by traditional media companies, such as CNN’s iReport) a run for their money. AllVoices also recently closed a $3 million round of funding from VantagePoint Partners, bringing the startup’s total funding to $9 million.
AllVoices allows anyone to contribute blog posts, images, videos and other observations, on local and global news. The site’s proprietary technology (AllVoices has filed for three patents) will tag, rank and sort news based on a global, regional, country and city pages and will determine what is breaking news and popular (in terms of phases of a news cycle). The system will also filter for spam, police the site, fact check each user report for credibility and assign a credibility rating to each news report. The site also lets users file reports from their cell phone via MMS and SMS, which is helpful to users in countries where computer usage is low but mobile device usage is high. The end goal is to provide a 360 degree view of reported news that also has a multimedia view of what’s happening in the world.
The brainchild of Amra Tareen, AllVoices was launched by Tareen and her co-founders in 2008. A former VC at Sevin Rosen Funds, Tareen recognized the importance of the citizen voice in everyday news in 2005 when she was an aid worker in Pakistan following the catastrophic earthquakes that caused massive damage and deaths in the country.
Tareen may be onto to something with AllVoices. The site currently has a community of 275,000 citizen reporters and is seeing close to 5 million unique visitors per month, which is fast growth for a recently launched media startup. Half of AllVoices’ traffic and visitors are from outside the U.S. and U.K, with citizens reporting from over 160 different countries. Tareen emphasizes that the site is as much a community as a news platform. Contributors can collaborate on stories and discuss news with other users and readers on the site.
While AllVoices may be seeing steady growth, the citizen journalism platform may be close to overtaking CNN’s iReport, which seems to be the site’s main rival in terms of traffic. Tareen says that as of late 2008, iReport had 118,000 registered users and is “fully confident that AllVoices is the largest citizen reporting cite in the world” (see update below). Another competitor in the space, NowPublic was acquired by the Examiner.com last year for $25 million.
So what’s next for the site? Tareen says that she wants to focus on expanding the hyper-local coverage on the news site in the U.S. I can;t help but think that AllVoices may be a possible acquisition target for a media company that doesn’t have a popular citizen journalism portal. One things for sure; we’ll be hearing more from AllVoices in the future.
UPDATE: CNN has reached out to TechCrunch with updated numbers on iReport:
* CNN iReport has more than 477,000 registered “iReporters” (Source: iReport Server Log Data)
* According to Nielsen Online, CNN iReport is the number one citizen journalism site online (Nielsen Online Custom, September ’09)
* The iReport section of CNN.com averages 2.1 million unique users each month alone. (Source: Nielsen Online)
* iReport experienced its highest traffic day on June 11, 2008 with 2.8 million page views (Source: Omniture)
* iReport averages 16,112 submissions (photo and video) each month. (Source: iReport server log data)