ProPublica, Storify, and the Top 5 Cool New Media Startups That Are Changing the Game

In a world where we find out about news within seconds on Twitter, where aggregators compete to tell us every story (in 140 characters or less), the media industry is changing on a daily basis. Many start-ups have joined this race to help shape the media landscape. They’re revolutionizing the kind of stories we read and hear about, the ways in which we consume the news, and how people participate in the process of developing stories. Here are some cool ones to keep an eye out for: 

1. ProPublicaNo discussion about cool, new things happening in the news world would be complete without mentioning ProPublica. Who can’t love a Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom that claims to “produce investigative journalism in the public interest?" While most web newsrooms are aggregators that re-tell stories, ProPublica is actually finding facts and telling compelling stories.


2. Spot.us. In the digital age, it’s easy to recognize what stories people want to read – Facebook shares, page views, and retweets are good indications of popularity. But Spot.us takes people’s power one step further by enabling people to literally pay for the stories they want told. The website says it’s about “community powered reporting.” The way it works is that citizens can pitch stories and fund stories, and the stories that meet their fundraising goal are picked up by freelance journalists. Think Kickstarter for stories. Examples of funded (and published) stories include: tax dodging in Florida, surfing the Arab Spring, and investigation of aid money in Haiti.


3. Storify. With so much content created and shared every minute on social media websites, a lot gets lost along the way. By allowing users – some of whom are major news providers – to package together content such as tweets, Instagram photos, and Youtube videos in order to create a ‘social story,' Storify enables users to curate and tell stories that are more than just a photo, a Like, or 140 characters long.


4. Pulse. If you start looking, there are so many content curator apps out there that it’s difficult to know where to start. While they’re all founded on a good idea, since nobody likes to toggle between apps for every blog/website they like to read, the one that's on top (on my iPhone at least) is Pulse. What I like about Pulse is that it’s personalized and still manages to be both beautiful and functional. It’s basically like a prettier Google News on your phone that lets you customize what you see.


5. Cowbird. With a mission to promote participatory, citizen journalism, Cowbird focuses on the human stories that lie behind major news events. The stunning website on the surface looks like it’s about letting people keep photographic personal diaries, but it’s more about documenting the many perspectives of news events, such as the “Occupy Saga.” While it might not be changing the way we consume or create news stories, Cowbird surely will change the way we reflect on the ‘sagas’ of the past.