A newly launched Web startup is working to bring the worlds of traditional and citizen-based journalism together. Allvoices — making its formal Internet debut this week — offers a diverse mix of text, image, and video reporting from both major news services and independent visitor submissions. It uses a custom algorithm to aggregate and rank stories from more than 4,000 separate sources and present them in a user-friendly fashion.
The idea behind Allvoices is to add diversity to the standard news mix. Its creators aren’t aiming to replace traditional news media for any given audience, but rather to enrich it with often overlooked alternative viewpoints.
“Allvoices gives everyone a voice and uses these various forms of content to create multiple perspectives in order to stimulate global discussions,” Allvoices CEO Amra Tareen told The Inquisitr. “Our site is free from traditional editorial oversight and censorship characteristic of global media organizations,” she said.
Once registered, anyone can submit coverage through the Web interface, via e-mail, or over mobile messaging. The service has dedicated numbers set up to receive SMS and MMS content. Much like the meme concept, the site links related stories together to provide broader perspective into widely covered topics. Readers then validate content both from users and from traditional news sources to determine its placement on the site.
“We use our technology to elevate and leverage the individual voice,” Tareen said.
No Human Touch
While Allvoices does have a filter to catch any obscene submissions, it prides itself on being completely unedited by humans — a concept that sets it apart from competitors such as Associated Content and Global Voices, and one that’s close to its founder’s heart.
It was during a trip to her Pakistan that Tareen — who grew up both there and in Australia — was first struck with the inspiration for a community-driven, democratic news source. She saw the effects of the devastating earthquake that claimed nearly 80,000 lives and destroyed millions of homes — and realized there was no centralized global venue for people to report on their experiences. Instead, a small sampling of professional reporters controlled what most of the world saw.
With a business and computer-oriented background — she studied engineering and computer science at Australia’s University of New South Wales, got her MBA from Harvard, then went on to work at Silicon Valley firms such as Sevin Rosen Funds and Ascend Communications — Tareen decided to give the idea a go. She secured $4.5 million in funding, recruited a team of industry experts, and set out to build an organization that — by its very nature — could not be biased.
“We want the emotions of our contributors to come through unfiltered,” she told The Inquisitr. “If somebody has a different perspective on a news event, they are free to post their own story next to other accounts of that same event. That allows readers to be exposed to different perspectives and opinions.”
Allvoices doesn’t shy away from tough topics, either. The front page rivals any news networks’, jam-packed with content ranging from political issues to financial news and global conflict to medical developments. It all plays into Tareen’s goal of becoming a powerhouse for balanced information worldwide.
“Our model of merging user-generated content and professional news sources into one community will create the first true people’s media,” she predicted.
Only time — and, fittingly enough, the people themselves — will tell.