Every morning I wake up and find 50 to 100 new emails in my inbox. Am I really that popular? Sadly, no. About 75 percent of it is unsolicited PR pitches. Delete. Delete. Delete.
As fun as that morning ritual is, I would much prefer not having to take the time to look at those emails. That’s something NewsBasis thinks they can help with.
When we last caught up with NewsBasis they were still called Plato’s Forms — yes, this name is much better — and they had just raised a seed round of funding. That was last November, and besides the name change, NewsBasis has been busy working on building out their underlying architecture. But the goal is still the same: create a new way for journalists and representatives from companies to interact.
The service, which is currently in beta testing, asks you to sign up as either said journalist or representative of a company. Once you do that, you can start looking over NewsBasis to find things you’re interested in. This can mean either scanning the news (via a keyword search on the site which pulls information from thousands of news feeds in realtime), scanning a topic, or making a request.
The request is the most interesting aspect because it’s how the two sides (journalist and company) interact with one another. For example, if I say I’m looking for something about location-based services, the companies on NewsBasis can see it and directly respond to my request. And it doesn’t have to just be companies. If I say I’m looking for an expert opinion on something like location hardware, someone with that area of expertise can see my request and reach out to me.
The main idea is that PR people (on behalf of companies) don’t have to waste their time sending me stuff and I don’t have to waste my time reading it. The idea is to eventually build up profiles of journalists and companies so that NewsBasis can know what you’re interested in without you having to explicitly search for news or information — or just get blindly sent stuff.
Obviously, I’m not naive enough to think this will wipe out the PR spam I get. But neither is founder Darryl Siry. He realizes that this PR business is a $4.4 billion one and if he can get just a slice of that to convert to his method, NewsBasis will be solid.
And they have some interesting tech to make that happen. Beyond the questions and answer database aspect, NewsBasis has a web browser plugin that runs in the background as you read the news online as you normally would. If you see something you like, you can use the plugin to mark it or take notes. Or if some expert in a field has already publicly annotated an article, you’ll see that as your browse. And links from within News Basis can take you to these articles to see these experts’ opinions and see if you agree with them.
Also interesting is the aforementioned NewsBasis news crawler. Simply by entering some keywords you’re interested in, the service pulls in all the articles about those topics. And they really do come in in realtime. Sure, a lot of people use Google News alerts for things like that, but this is noticeably faster (though obviously not as thorough as Google). And again, it’s nice to have all of this stuff in one main hub.
This technology is being built out by Siry’s partner in the endeavor, Jacob Rothstein. Going forward, they hope to pull in all kinds of documents as well to make it so a journalist doesn’t have to leave NewsBasis on their hunt for information.
To me, NewsBasis seems like a good idea for people relatively new to journalism seeking out stories, or those doing research on a particular topic. In some ways, it’s similar to some of the Q&A services like Quora and Aardvark, but with more of a focus on being a behind-the-scenes service for the news.
I just hope it cuts out a least a few of the PR pitches I get everyday.
Newsbasis (formerly Plato’s Forms), set to launch in Spring 2010, is a platform that wants to ease communication between journalists and the companies they write about. The service would charge a subscription fee to the companies, but would be free for journalists.