Back in 2008, we wrote about a startup called NewsCred, which looked to help identify the most trustworthy news sources using a combination of community voting and algorithms. That didn’t really take off, so the company is now heading in a new direction: it wants to help users build their own custom online newspapers in a matter of minutes, offering a professional-looking site tailored to include the content you’re interested in. And using NewsCred premium features, you could potentially create a combination news aggregator/opinion site in the same vein as The Huffington Post.
Using the site is simple: you choose the title of your new virtual paper, then specify which topics you’re interested in following. The site includes a number of categories to choose from, including tech and politics, but you can also generate one based on a keyword if you’d like. Once you’ve chosen your topics, NewsCred will generate a virtual newspaper containing the latest stories from each area. Stories are drawn from popular relevant news sites and blogs, and you can specify a RSS feed if it isn’t in the NewsCred directory. Along the left side of the screen is a list of sections that you can jump through, much as you would in a physical paper. There are a handful of sample sites you can test for yourself, like this one on Mobile News, Celebrity Gossip, and Manchester United.
We’ve seen news aggregators before, but NewsCred has a few options that are less common. For one, the site allows you to write editorials, which can be incorporated into the front page (or the topic specific sections). And the site will soon offer a premium version called NewsCred Pro, which is designed to help you further customize and even monetize the papers you’ve built. With NewsCred Pro, you can host your paper at a personal domain, run your own advertising on the page, eliminate NewsCred branding, and further customize the layout and newspaper template. Together, these features could allow you to build a Huffington Post-style news hub, complete with your own opinion pieces, focused on whatever topic you wanted.
NewsCred has done a nice job putting their custom papers together, and most of the site looks very well done (though I did find some poor results as I searched for topics to add). But the new space it is entering is going to be competitive. For one, homepage sites like iGoogle allow users to include news feed widgets. And there are sites that are more directly competitive, like Meehive, the Kosmix-powered custom news site (covered here). That said, NewsCred may be able to build a business helping users build their own niche news portals, the same way Ning appeals to users building custom social networks.
NewsCred closed a seed round of funding last year from private investors in the US, UK, and Switzerland, as well as “one of the large Silicon Valley VC firms” (the company won’t disclose the names of their investors).