Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

April 25 2012

15:43

Worldcrunch wants to be the Internet’s Rosetta Stone for news

As the translation-based news service Worldcrunch approaches the one-year anniversary of their launch, it’s also tweaking its business approach in three key ways that co-founders Jeff Israely and Irène Toporkoff hope will help it thrive.

Worldcrunch’s central goal is to find news that wouldn’t otherwise appear in English-speaking news sources at a time when U.S. news organizations have slashed their budgets for international coverage. You may recognize Israely, a former Time correspondent, from his regular column for Nieman Lab about the process of launching a news startup. A year in, he’s getting a better sense of what it takes to keep one going.

First, Worldcrunch has plans to increase its output. The most straightforward way to do this, as many news organizations have found, is to aggregate from other sources. But Worldcrunch will do so with a twist: Call it translaggregating — translating what you aggregate.

“That’s going to allow us to really be more dynamic, more reactive, and expand the kind of stories we can produce, and how we can produce them, and when we can produce them,” Israely told me from Paris, where Worldcrunch is based.

One way the site aims to bump up the volume of aggregated material is through a crowdsourced initiative it’s calling “Crunch It.” For now, Worldcrunch is calling on volunteers to nominate articles for translation, “English-ize” them, and vote for the best finished pieces. But Israely said the Worldcrunch team is still figuring out exactly how process will work. He calls the initative “in the neighborhood of crowdsourcing,” but he also wants to put certain quality safeguards in place. Making sure a story is right for Worldcrunch isn’t simply about impeccable multilingual skills — it has to be a story that doesn’t already appear in English.

“They think that content is self-generating, and you just need the tools to filter it, to aggregate it, to monetize it. We don’t agree with that.”

“In addition, the original story itself has to stand up,” Israely said. “It has to be a well written story. It has to be a story that has enough background material that allows it to travel. If Le Monde is writing a story about French schools, and if the story has too many references to things that only French people know, we’d have to transform the story and put in all kinds of context — our partners allow us to adapt the story and add in context when necessary — but if the whole process becomes rewriting and adding in context, it’s probably not a good story for us.”

The second key change Worldcrunch is making: it’s putting up “some kind of metered model” paywall “before summer.”

But even as the paywall goes up, Worldcrunch is shifting away from the idea that its website will be the sole hub for its readers. Arguably the most important development to the Worldcrunch business model is that it’s forging partnerships with English-language publications that will pay for translated content. Worldcrunch is already selling content to the Toronto Star, and is in talks with a U.S. publication about a similar deal.

Here’s how it works: A non-English news organization gives Worldcrunch permission to translate its content. Worldcrunch then posts the translated content to its website, and offers to sell it to English-language news organizations. Those organizations pay Worldcrunch an undisclosed amount, and Worldcrunch gives the original content producer a 40 percent cut.

Israely and Toporkoff see this distribution model as a win-win-win: The original publication gets a much wider audience for its stories (plus some extra revenue); English-language publications provide valuable international news to their readers; Worldcrunch can pay its bills and keep the cycle going.

With the slogan “all news is global,” the site operates with three editors and about a dozen freelance translators. Working with media partners across Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Worldcrunch translates about 30 articles per week into English from German, Turkish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. Worldcrunch aims to do what even the old network of foreign bureaus had trouble doing: providing original, domestically produced coverage for an international audience.

Some examples that stand out for Israely and Torpokoff include diverse viewpoints about the economic situation in Turkey, coverage of tensions in the Middle East, an interview with maligned Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about his plans to resign, Russian election coverage by and for Russians, and a French-authored article about why French people reacted differently to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal than residents of other countries. (Israely also points out the benefit of getting original French perspective about more lighthearted topics like perfume and food.)

Press freedom as a moving target

Earlier this month, German-language newspaper Die Welt published a column about a controversial poem penned by Nobel Prize winner and former Nazi Günter Grass (the poem was published in another German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung), and Worldcrunch translated it.

While you could have read about the scandal in The New York Times, that story — published three days after the Worldcrunch piece — didn’t provide the same direct cultural perspective (the Times coverage has a joint byline from Israel- and Berlin-based correspondents). The Times reports that Grass’ views “are relatively common among European intellectuals,” though “strung together” in a way that incited outrage. But Henryk Broder’s column for Die Welt actually articulates those views in the context of the Grass imbroglio.

“The fact that [Grass] is accused of being anti-semitic and here you have the German press — this German writer in the German press — saying he is anti-semitic, and it’s not normal — I think that makes it interesting,” Toporkoff said. “Within Germany, there is debate. We have chosen to publish something that we found very interesting that says a lot about what’s happening in Germany, but also what happened in general.”

Then there is the “meta-example” that Israely gives of an article — from China’s Economic Observer — highlighting the global scarcity of press freedom.

“This was the Beijing paper reporting on this almost over-the-top sort of rabid, gossipy Hong Kong press right before the elections there,” Israely said. “Sort of explaining to Chinese readers how this is what a free press looks like with all its warts, and the beauty of being truly free and going after a candidate and sticking cameras into his backyard.”

Along those same lines, working with a (relatively) independent newspaper out of China can be unpredictable. Though there are certain boundaries he says The Economic Observer won’t cross (they won’t write about Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, for instance), he has been surprised by how provocative, lively, and sometimes irreverent the paper can be.

“It’s a moving target, because it’s changing before our eyes,” Israely said. “The Economic Observer in Beijing actually does get shut down now and again. The site does get shut down, and our contact there says they’re in the penalty box essentially.”

Israely says that establishing partnerships in the first place is the hardest part. His job is to convince them of a principle that he says was best summed up in a recent TechCrunch article: Whoever creates the best content at the lowest cost possible will create the most value over time.

“It’s a very simple formula, but I think a lot of energy has been spent over the past few years where people — particularly on the tech side, thinking about the news business — they think that content isn’t an issue,” Israely said. “They think that there’s no shortage of content. They think that content is self-generating, and you just need the tools to filter it, to aggregate it, to monetize it. We don’t agree with that. We don’t think that news content just produces itself. It has to be produces and I don’t care about the labels — whether it’s journalists producing it, or in our case translators. But there needs to be a layer of journalism, or layers of journalism, to make it quality content.”

Photo of Earth by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center used under a Creative Commons license.

September 19 2011

05:21

L’intervista a Terry De Nicolò

È andata in onda venerdì durante la prima puntata della nuova stagione di “L’ultima parola”, il programma di Gianluigi Paragone su Rai 2, l’intervista alla “escort” Terry De Nicolò, coinvolta nelle inchieste sul traffico di prostituzione a favore del Presidente del Consiglio: le cose sfacciate e aggressive che ha detto sul valore della bellezza e il loro essere sintomo di una cultura diffusa hanno fatto circolare in rete il video in numeri enormi, e oggi ne parlano anche alcuni quotidiani, e Concita De Gregorio in prima pagina su Repubblica. Nel video l’intervista è seguita da un imbarazzato intervento di Alessandro Sallusti in studio all’”Ultima Parola”.

April 18 2010

12:51

Legittima eucarestia

Qualcuno si è accorto che a Berlusconi viene regolarmente data la comunione anche se è divorziato una volta e separato un'altra.
Chissà se si riferiscono a casi come questo, quando dicono che la Chiesa è un interlocutore scomodo che non fa sconti a nessuno.


March 24 2010

08:23

La sinistra che deride

Silvio Berlusconi, 23 marzo 2010:
Con i suoi esponenti di punta la sinistra offende, insulta, deride e calunnia.

Sempre Silvio Berlusconi, sempre il 23 marzo 2010:

Sapete perché Bresso è sempre di cattivo umore? Perché al mattino quando si alza e si guarda allo specchio per truccarsi, si vede. E così si è già rovinata la giornata.

March 22 2010

22:24

Non per coerenza, ma per necessità

Silvio Berlusconi si esprime ancora sulla vicenda delle liste elettorali nel Lazio:
Abbiamo mandato a combattere e morire per garantire il voto in Afghanistan e ci vietano di votare a Roma. Per coerenza dovremmo richiamare i nostri soldati.
Mi corre l'obbligo di ricordare che abbiamo mandato i nostri militari in Afghanistan per garantire che le procedure di voto si svolgessero in modo regolare, cioè per impedire che in quel paese accadesse ciò che in Italia qualcuno sta ostinatamente cercando di fare da tre settimane: far prevalere la prepotenza sulla legge e violare arbitrariamente le regole.
Il che, paradossalmente, mi conduce ad essere d'accordo con Berlusconi: forse dovremmo davvero richiamarli, i nostri soldati.
Non per coerenza, ma perché ci sarebbe un gran bisogno bisogno del loro aiuto anche qua.

March 20 2010

17:59

Il Milione

(di Gianluca Neri)

Fate conto che la foto è composta da 112.400 pixel. Bene: attribuendo artificialmente (e per eccesso) ad ogni pixel una testa, servirebbero almeno altre nove foto come questa, allineate, per fare un milione.

Un milione di persone disposte su un’area di 7.500 metri quadrati significa (escludendo buchi) una densità di 133 persone per metro quadro.

Articoli correlati


November 25 2009

11:08

Carlo de Benedetti: press freedom, La Repubblica and Berlusconi

“The question of the truth and of accountability underpinning this issue, which has been round the world, has also become a question of freedom. The Prime Minister in attacking Repubblica is attacking the whole of the press of the western world,” said Carlo de Benedetti, chairman of Italian publishing group Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, this week in the below speech, entitled ‘Newspapers and Democracy in the Internet Era. The Italian Case’, to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

De Benedetti was referring to the legal action brought against La Repubblica, which is published by L’Espresso, by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi had refused to answer 10 questions posed by the paper to the leader regarding a series of alleged scandals. Berlusconi took legal action and claimed for damages against the paper prompting an online petition from the paper.

“On November 5, after six months of attacks and allegations, the Italian Premier finally had to answer the 10 questions posed by Repubblica. This decision shows that the questions were legitimate, that it was journalistically correct to ask them, reiterate them and demand an answer. The delay with which the answer arrived was definitely politically significant. Equally significant was the method chosen for the answers: rejecting a direct confrontation with Repubblica or a dialogue with public opinion, opting instead for a journalist friend and his book, published by the publishing house owned directly by the head of the government. A controlled and protected political operation,” explained de Benedetti in his speech reproduced below via Scribd, in which he also comments on the role of citizen journalists and online news sites.

Similar Posts:



Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl