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Fresco News

Fresco News teams with FOX to bring citizen journalism to local newsrooms around the U.S.

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Crowdsourced journalism startup Fresco News has just scored a notable partnership which will bring photo and video footage shot by ordinary citizens to several local Fox newsrooms around the U.S. Using the company’s iPhone app, participating Fox-owned stations will be able to send out assignments to the app’s users, who will then submit content to be used on-air. Users will receive $50 for videos and $20 for photos if they ended up being selected as part of the news program.

The stations actually pay $75 for video and $30 for photos ahead of the startup’s cut. The rest is distributed to the user who shared the content.

The partnership with Fox involves a number of Fox-owned stations in major markets across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Tampa, Charlotte and Orlando. The launch follows an earlier test of the program in Philadelphia (with Fox 29), that took place last month.

“We’ve been trying to do this the right way for years, but all that was missing were some ambitious 20-somethings and a simple app,” said FOX Television Stations SVP News Operations, Sharri Berg, in a statement about the deal.

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The launch follows Fresco News’ seed round of $1.2 million last fall, from investors such as CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld, MediaBistro founder Laurel Touby, former Yahoo executive Ross Levinsohn, former NewsCorp/AOL exec Jonathan Miller, Science Inc. founder Michael Jones, Fresco Capital, 1517 Fund, Social Starts and Wavemaker Partners.

In addition to having the chance to become a paid citizen journalist, Fresco News’ iOS app also lets users browse news events from around the world, including viewing “Highlights,” big stories, and related articles.

Prior to Fox, other news organizations have already using its tools, including The Associated Press, Media General and Calkins Media, and dozens of smaller news organizations, the company previously said. The company did trials with AP, Media General and Calkins, but the Fox deal is a first-of-its kind said Fresco News’ CEO John Meyer.

And the app provides access to over 70 news organization partners in the U.S. who will pay when they use a submitted photo or video. Today, the company reports a consumer user base in the five digits, but expects that to grow with the Fox roll out.

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While many citizen journalism efforts in the past have struggled to take off, Fresco News is interesting because it’s extending what traditional newsrooms are doing anyway – that is, sourcing photos and videos from the crowd. Today, this is often done by pulling from social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. These sites have also been catering to this need via their own services – like Facebook’s news-gathering platform Signal, launched last year, or YouTube’s channel of vetted videos, Newswire, for example.

However, these services tend to focus on the bigger stories of the day, like national or international news.

With the Fox deal, the aim is more at helping a local community’s newsroom. For instance, the Philly station used the app for on-the-ground reporting of weather incidents like high winds and big snows, disasters like a major fire, and even lifestyle reporting, like a segment on Philly history.

The citizen assignments are rolling out now, just in time for the big SXSW event in Austin, Texas, where the local Fox station will be looking to pull videos and photos from the conference, ranging from Obama’s visit to pop-up concerts and more.