Arguably, in the age of Facebook and, to a greater degree, Twitter, the early excitement around so-called Citizen Journalism has been surpassed by social media. But that isn’t stopping London-based Blottr, founded by Adam Baker, which thinks it’s found the right formula – a mix of collaborative publishing, ‘authentication algorithm’ and revenue sharing – to give the idea a new lease of life.
That’s not to say that social media is absent, sharing of articles via Facebook and Twitter is actively encouraged and tweets are automatically incorporated into stories, but otherwise this is more akin to a traditional online news publication, only one that is written by non-professional “journalists”.
Anyone can sign-up and begin writing a news story or making revisions to an existing one, including adding photos or video. Stories are categorised and users are asked to pinpoint the location relevant to the story on a map. Wiki-style, each story has a revision history (to cover the full cycle of an event) and a list of contributors but it’s the ‘authentication algorithm’ that Blottr says make it stand out from other Citizen Journalism offerings. It attributes credibility to each story based on factors like how “influential” the author is on Blottr, how many other people have contributed to the story and how many times its been shared on Facebook and Twitter or been bookmarked.
Users also have a chance to get paid for their contributions in the form of a kick back per thousand page views. This is obviously kept below Blottr’s CPM ad rate but at around £1 per thousand views – for now at least – seems quite high. Blottr says it’s seen a 20% increase in registrations since launching it revenue sharing scheme.
To that end, the site, which has been operating “under the radar”, is seeing an average of 4,500 uniques per-day (growing over 100% month-on-month over the last 3 months), while registered users currently sit at around 2,500. In terms of exposure, Baker says Blottr has been punching above its weight for organic search terms on Google for things like “Latest London news” and “Breaking London news” and that the site has been able to break stories before other media organisations and often remains the sole provider of local stories, which is also where the business model comes in. Blottr says that it plans to license its technology to 3rd parties and that they are in talks with two large media companies.
The company is privately funded by Baker but is said to be in “fairly advanced discussions” with two unnamed angel investors.