News Bites

Project Title:

  • The News: For the People, By the People

Requested Amount

  • 50,000$

Expected Amount of time to Complete Project

  • Approximately 5 years

 

Describe your Project:

 

Our project aims to create a news site entirely composed of unfiltered bystander photo and video. In the digital age, most citizens have cell phones equipped with the technology capable of capturing events as they happen in real-time. Notable incidents of bystander video have emerged in cases such as in the death of Eric Garner, the refugee crisis in Syria, and protests at Donald Trump rallies. Our product will be a user-generated source of bystander video, photo and audio relating to news events as they happen in real-time. The site will collect photo and video from regular citizens present. Next, we will group the digital media by event, and allow users to access the information freely on either our site or a mobile application that we will develop. This product will follow in the mold of worldstarhiphop.com, a website that allows users to upload the media they capture as they occur. Yet contrary to “World Star Hip Hop”, our product focuses on non-satirical and accurate coverage of these happenings. The process will work as follows: bystanders at important news events that affect the country will capture the event and submit the file to us on either the site or our mobile application. We will have a news team working around the clock (in the age of twenty four hour news, this is important) receiving media and updating our platforms. Our team will sort through all of the clips received (with the help of computer algorithms to sort through spam) and list them in a categorical format. Users across the country with access to our application will then see this listing of news events that we have data for. We will list each video in order of file received. Users can view as many videos or files as desired. The application will partly be funded by advertisements that are shown before the videos. We believe videos address the challenges that current news outlets are having keeping viewers’ attention, and it will also attempt to create a platform for citizens to make a difference in the coverage of these stories by giving raw footage of the events which are not commented on by the curators. The project will aim to take away bias from the reporting of news by removing the voice or commentary from the news entirely. Users generate the content of our product, and the only reviewing of data by our team will be to verify that the file is indeed from the news event that it is reported to be from. With a product that shows the real-time events without any extra commentary, we will create a news service that is truly created by and for the people, without any other influence or bias.

 

What unmet need does your product meet?

 

Our group believes that there is not a relevant source that compiles unfiltered video and photo captures relating to current news topics; therefore, we are addressing the need for people to see unbiased information in order to come to their own conclusions on the issues. The unfiltered media will be accessible to everyone, and there will be no context for the videos as an attempt to eliminate bias. Also, it is often difficult to have journalists quickly at the scene of a major news break; thus, we want to establish a platform where people can view these happenings in real time. This platform would create a new form of journalism to give more power to the average citizen, and help people to think that they are making a difference in presenting their materials to the world. Finally, our source would allow for more people to understand the issues happening because it would be in the form of short video clips that would keep the attention of viewers in a better way than traditional written news can.

 

Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety.

 

 

  1. Jeremy Klapper, 22, is a kinesiology major at the University of Michigan from New York City. Jeremy recalls a John F Kennedy advertisement from his Junior year in high school as his first ever video news segment he ever watched. Jeremy thinks the news is biased, saying “everyone has their own opinion. That’s just how it works. Everyone has their own bias, through facial expressions, tone of voice, intentional or unintentional”. Jeremy catches the news through New York Times updates on his phone, as well as word of mouth. When asked if he gets bored reading the news, he wastes no time before answering a resounding “Yes”. When asked about what he wants from the news, Jeremy replies: “Less negative, more positive. Maybe get rid of the stereotypical tone of voice that is characteristic of a news reporter and one that is of a human being. I’m not likely to spend more than five minutes watching a news story”.

Contact: Jeremy Klapper, jklapper@umich.edu

 

  1. Alison Granger, a 22-year-old woman living in Chicago, Illinois, currently works in a health insurance profession. She gets most of her news from the news organizations that she follows on twitter, and she only reads the full stories if an image or tweet really catches her attention. Granger said, “I think adding other forms of media could add to the excitement for many people, but I personally like reading my news on twitter the best. I like twitter because I can get information from several sources at the same time, and it’s fast and easy.” This enjoyment of a quick news feed can be explained by Granger’s method of reading during her 30 minute commute to work every day. Yet, she often feels that portrayal of politics and other “hot button” issues are biased in their coverage, and feels this stems from the sources trying to play to their audiences. Her biggest problem is that she feels that many news outlets fail to cover many of the stories and quickly forget about others. She hopes this will be addressed soon.

 

Alison Granger, alisoneg@umich.edu

 

  1. William Bell, age 55, is a resident of Detroit, Michigan where he works as a blue collar worker at Chrysler LLC. The most memorable news footage he ever saw was the filming of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. “It felt like a dangerous situation where the country was under attack.” He saw the video on CNN. When asked if he thinks that the news is biased he responded “Yes, I do think that the news in biased.” He believes that the news has an ulterior motive that based information off American perspectives. In terms of American perspective, he believes that in America we present stories to make America to appear to have done the “right thing”. He also says that sometimes things that we do in our culture are not acceptable in other cultures but we don’t present that story. An example of this he mentioned was how killing cows in America is generally acceptable and in other regions they are seen as sacred. When asked where he received most of his news, he said that he gets his news predominantly from CNN/World News. He says that he does not really get bored watching the news and that it is already exciting. He says that he is more likely to watch/ read the news for an average of a half of an hour daily.

Jasmine Bell, bjasmine@umich.edu *I am the contact for this person because they felt more comfortable being notified that someone they know would discuss this with them prior to being contacted*

 

  1. Jared Heddinger is a 20-year old from Battle Creek, Michigan, where he is enrolled full-time at the University of Michigan while working part-time for the University. He usually hears about news events through word-of-mouth, and then follows up with news websites. He also reads the newspaper at work, occasionally. He distinctly remembers the bystander video footage from the Brown protests, when people were getting tear gassed by the police. He believes the news is very much biased. “Our major media sources are run by corporations and millionaires that have their own agenda. In my opinion, they aren’t even trying to attempt a lesser amount of bias. If you actually fact check news sources, they aren’t very true.” Jared does not find news boring, but does think that news would be more exciting, “if there was more of an emphasis on the actual events than the journalists’ bias.” He also would like to be able to pick and choose what you wanted to read, like selecting a topic for instance, instead of having it “force-fed”. Depending on the gravity of the scenario, he will generally spend 5-10 minutes reading one story.

Jared Heddinger, jaredph@umich.edu

 

How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use.

 

We estimate a sizable potential market for our idea. The potential reach of our product extends to any individual with a cell phone camera. According to the Pew Research Center, in October 2014 64% of all adults in the United States own a smartphone, which would be capable of supplying material to our product. We would not expect our news market to stretch to major network levels, such as CNN and MSNBC because of budget, in addition to the absence of commentary that a major news network would provide, but we do believe that our product would create an effective, populated niche market of news.

 

How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitors

 

Our idea is innovative because it focuses on live media streaming for the people, by the people. This method exhibits current domestic events happening in real time via photo, video streaming, and audio. This differs from programs such as vine and worldstar because it focuses on issues that are generally found in news mediums similarly to the “Wall Street Journal” or “CNN”  rather than traditionally satirical sources. Our program will take current events found in news mediums such as the one’s that are previously listed, but put it in the hand of citizens in a much more digestible way. Additional innovation from this proposal includes the diversity in perspectives on particular subject matter in real time. These videos can include, but are not limited to, interviews, live feeds of incidences, etc.  Our application is also different from mediums such as a youtube because the videos will have a time limit of 3 minutes, which helps to maintain the attention span of the audience while providing unique perspectives. This site also focuses on accessibility, being user friendly, and mobile operated. Our closest competitors include, but are not limited to, people using youtube, vine, and worldstar, but as previously mentioned, a focus on live news streaming for the people, by the people is the difference between us and our competitors.

 

How will your idea be financially sustainable?

 

The beauty of our product is the low cost of the endeavor. The initial funding to start the website would be the only large sum of money that we would need. Also, due to the footage on the site coming from regular citizens, there would be very few employees to pay. Nevertheless, we would need to pay someone to manage the site and make sure it is functional, as well as a few people to sift through the material to ensure that is shot well enough to be on the site. These individuals would be compensated through ads. As our site will primarily consist of videos, we can sell the ad space preceding the videos to keep the site running. Also, we can have stationary ads on the side bar if we need more money.

 

Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?  

 

Our team is ideal for developing this project because World Star Hip Hop, the model website, is most frequently visited by high school and college age individuals. We understand the formatting and appeal of such websites, which will help us to successfully launch our own site. Also, as members of the generation that demands immediacy, we will be able to provide real-time video footage that is no longer than 3 minutes. Our generation is used to live streaming videos on the internet, and each of us has viewed a substantial amount of media on sites like Worldstar and Vine.

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7 Responses to “News Bites”

  1. I think this is a very interesting idea. It would be helpful for people to have a source where they can get videos of things happening in the world without biased commentary, and I think your idea will accomplish this well. I am just wondering if there are any privacy concerns involved with filming people and then making the videos public. How would you be able to ensure that people will not sue the website if there is a video of them uploaded that they did not consent to being made public? I am not sure the specific process that would be needed in order to prevent legal implications following a controversial post, but I think it could be worth exploring. Great job so far!

  2. I think this is a very innovative idea! I think your team has done a great job of working through the idea and adequately addressed the need for unbiased news coverage. From my own perspective, I think the media has a lot of power to frame content in the way they want and this would put the power in the hands of the everyday person. As I read the description, I too was thinking about the legality of publishing this media content. I’m sure this is something you guys could work through and wish you the best of luck with your project!

  3. I think this is a really interesting idea and would really serve a purpose in our world. I agree that news can sometimes be boring and filled with biases and I think that this will be a good way of fixing that since people from all different backgrounds and locations can publish these videos. However, I do believe that these videos should still be allowed to have description, such as if the person filming it decided to narrate what is happening or give some background on an ongoing issue. This of course would be from one person’s point of view, but I think if everyone was allowed to do that you would still receive so many different points of view that a consumer would not feel as though the news in general was biased. Overall, I think this idea is great and I believe it is totally possible, even with any legality issues you may run into. Good job and good luck!

  4. Awesome! It seems quite expensive to run a 24-hour news station though. Instead of using hired people to sort through videos you could have the customers to this. You could use a system of up-votes and down-votes like what reddit uses. The most best depictions will end up at the top, and the worst videos and spam will end up at the bottom, without having to pay anyone. Also, it may be quite expensive to run a website that has to process much data. You may need an elevated platform that offers more than a basic website would. This is not my forte though. It could be helpful to talk to someone at WorldStar to learn about what makes their website tick.

  5. Your team’s idea is great! News Bites sounds both engaging and informative.

    What I was wondering was: what would be the incentive for people to use News Bites instead of using YouTube and then possibly making a profit off of their own material? The idea of compensating a site manager through ad revenue was brought up – would the users of News Bites who generate a lot of views also be compensated, like how users are payed on platforms like YouTube? Would they be compensated fairly if news organizations want to use their footage?

    One thing I thought of was if News Bites is available for local events, it would be awesome for communities. I love the idea of people being able to catch up on local events/happenings through News Bites.

    Best of luck,
    Yumi

  6. Hi, Garrett, Harold, Jasmine and Karina. Wonderful idea! I like that it combines a lot of trends — visual storytelling, crowd sourcing, interaction with news. I also think the comments have offered you some brilliant suggestions for improvement.
    I think your biggest challenge is explaining why people should use your app instead of Twitter, Vine, youtube, even c span. How do you move people that are already thinking about those services during breaking news events to your service? I think you should consider your response to the Facebook check-in feature, that allows people in an area experiencing a natural or political disaster to post that they are OK, so friends in other areas won’t worry. Of course, this feature is designed to pull people to Facebook during a disaster. Did I hear that Twitter is looking at a similar check-in feature? How will you compete?
    I see that you are trying to differentiate by choosing only videos that are newsy, not satirical. What if you get a lot of submissions that combine the two? They are recorded at a historic, newsy event but they include some kind of commentary? Would you discard these submissions?
    Again, very interesting thoughts here. I’m interested to hear how you respond to the questions raised about your idea.

    • Hey Emilia, thanks for the wonderful insight on our idea and for the support. We also enjoy the combining of features in a new way.

      As for your questions, we believe that our app is different from other social media sites because you come to it only to see unfiltered and unedited news. This idea does not exist on other social media sites because the information is interspersed throughout timelines rather than being all in one area. Also, the information that leads the headlines on those sites are those from popular news media, while ours would be from the general public.

      The final way our product differs addresses your final question. We would only post material that was in real time without commentary. While we realize that we will receive satirical information, our goal is to keep things objective by placing the viewer in the situation to make their own decisions. Therefore, we would discard these submissions.

      For these reasons, we think that twitter, facebook, c-span, and other social media sites could help rather than hurt our cause. We would advertise on these sites with the goal of having the users on these media channels coming to our channel to find and possibly post real time news updates without the commentary. Also, our site would take the bias out, so it would be a great first stop for individuals to make their own assessments of the events as they happen.

      As for the check-in feature, that would be a great addition to pull people to our site as well, and we would like to implement that in our app as we move along. The addition would help to not only draw users who wish to post videos, but also other people in the area to tell their family and friends that they are safe.

      We hope these comments answer your questions, and again, thank you for the feedback.

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