No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s tough to argue with the fact that there are more sources than ever before in the age of cable news and digital media, with varying shades of slant sprinkled throughout them.
In fact, a study last year by the PEW Research Center found that nearly 74% of Americans believe news organizations tend to favor one side of story and 60% believe news organizations are politically biased.
One new multi-media startup aiming to address these issues, along with the need for cost-effectively produced web and mobile video content, is Missouri-based Newsy.com. Newsy.com is a online video news site that monitors, analyzes and presents multi-sourced (or unbiased) news in video form for multiple platforms. The service is positioned as a video analyzer, not a video aggregator (such as VideoSift or Dabble.com), which means it employs an editorial staff to assist with the analyzing, sourcing, producing and repackaging rather than simply aggregating the video content.
“Look at the health care issue right now and there are likely 15,000 pieces of news coverage in all forms,” Newsy.com’s Founder and President Jim Spencer noted to me last week. “We sift through all the pieces of coverage and present one multi-sourced video.”
Missouri would seem like a funny home for a video startup to most, but Spencer, a J-school graduate from the University of Missouri, found just what he was looking for in returning to Columbia. A natural partnership with the J-School lowers staff and production costs, while offering two courses to students: An online audience development class, and a global converged news class taught by Newsy.com Vice President of Editorial Pam Maples, who was previously the managing editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Another cost saver is Newsy.com’s proprietary technology that manually records and captures content. This allows the company’s 22 full and part-time employees, and assisting students, to sift through hours of media in an efficient way. All of this, in addition to the overall production prices being lower in Missouri than San Francisco or New York allows Newsy.com to analyze, produce and distribute news at a discount of as much as 40 percent on the dollar. Or as Spencer notes, “We can now compete with Mumbai.”
The notion of being “smarter and faster” provides several revenue stream options for Spencer, who is a veteran of new media offerings. Formerly the VP of Content and Answers at Ask Jeeves (Ask.com) and the GM of News and Information Programming at AOL, Spencer believes Newsy.com can drive revenue in a variety of ways outside of traditional on-site advertising. Namely, content licensing, branded news casts and revenue shares through syndication.
These revenue streams also apply to mobile video, which Spencer sees as a big opportunity. “There is a demand for short video news analysis on mobile devices,” he noted. The iPhone and its support of high quality video is certainly a driver of that. Last June, YouTube reported a 400% jump in video uploads driven by the release of the iPhone 3G and there’s an equal demand for consuming video on mobile devices. In fact, Newsy.com’s video news app for the iPhone reached number five on the list of free apps in the News category within the iTunes App Store last October (ahead of TIME, Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post apps).
Spencer, who plans to launch a similar video playing app for Android this week sees this growth as validation of Newsy.com’s platform agnostic approach. “It’s an affirmation of our multi-sourced, multi-platform approach. We’re ahead of this trend.”