NewsCred founder Shafqat Islam about startups and the future of media

While everybody in journalism is wondering how the future of media looks like, entrepreneurs try to shape it. They develop new products and services that maybe could be the next big thing in journalism. OJB asks those entrepreneurs three simple questions in a series of interviews. First up: Shafqat Islam from NewsCred.

For everyone who has never heard of NewsCred: it’s an online platform that aggregates articles from lots of media – newspapers, magazines, blogs. NewsCred users can build a personalised online newspaper by selecting media and topics they want to read from and about.

The platform says it collects “all the world’s credible news, in one place”. It’s up to users to decide which news is credible and which isn’t. They can vote those articles down if they think it contains false facts or bias. A negative vote on a article doesn’t only influence the article but also the reporter that wrote it and the medium that published it. Based on the all the votes for a certain medium or journalist NewsCred ranks the credibility of media and journalists. And of course that ranking influences how prominent news is brought in the personalised newspapers.

How did you came up with the idea for your startup?

“Before we had any idea Iraj Islam and I always talked about the press. We were discussing biased articles that came across or false facts in the media. Soon we realised all our friends had lots of issues with the media transparency just like we had. We wondered if there was something like a online track record about media and journalists. A platform that would give insights into biased stories and false facts published by media and journalists. We found out that such a platform didn’t exist yet. So we decided to build NewsCred to introduce that level of accountability.”

Initially we wanted to build a platform that collects data about those biased story and false facts and we would then analyse this data. The platform would present the user all kinds of graph and charts so they could see which source is credible and which isn’t. But soon we found out that it’s very hard to judge which source is credible and which not – just based on numbers. Even if you have all kinds of data. That is when NewsCred morphed into the what it is nowadays: a platform where readers can voice their opinion and join in discussions about the credibility of news media.

What did you learn news startups and about media?

“That it’s very hard to scale a business. Just doing a consumer website isn’t enough to monetize NewsCred. We ask ourselves the same question as newspapers and news websites do: how do I make money out of this consumer website? Advertisements just aren’t enough.”

“We think we’ve found a way to monetize NewsCred. I can’t say much about it yet, but it comes down to using our underlying technology to help other web publishers improve their websites, acquire new users and increase their user engagement.”

I’ve also found out that nobody has the answers to the defining questions about the state and future of the media. To find those answers we all have to work together. Startups, evangelists, pioneers, critics, news corporations – they all have to work together.”

What is the future of journalism?

I believe that openness will be very important for the future of journalism. News corporations should start to experiment with sharing their data, building platforms and API’s. Google showed us that  you can be open and still build a profitable company.”

“I’m very optimistic. I don’t think newspaper organisations will go away. Sure, newspapers will disappear – within 2, 3 or maybe 5 years newspapers are really gone. But the core competence of newspaper organisations isn’t the newspaper itself. It’s the typical kind of journalism they produce. And there are tremendous opportunities for them online to present the same kind of journalism but then via a different medium.

Want to be the next news startup featured in this series? Send an e-mail to paul [AT] paulvereijken [.] nl.

2 thoughts on “NewsCred founder Shafqat Islam about startups and the future of media

  1. Pingback: NewsCred Blog » Blog Archive » Our Interview on the Online Journalism Blog

  2. Pingback: On local « On Technology

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