Tag Archives: Media Startups

The Indypendent: News for the people.

Free news. The concept seems as normal today as… wait, nothing is free nowadays! (And if you can have it for free, you are probably the product being sold.)

But what if the meaning of free isn’t ” without cost or payment,” but instead this: “not under the control or in the power of another.”  I believe that’s the idea behind The Indypendent, an online-based and monthly print newspaper based in New York City founded by the New York City Independent Media Center

Written and produced by volunteers and journalists, The Indypendent offers a fresh, non-mainstream look into the news that actually involves and interests people. According to its website, the paper explores “how systems of power — economic, political, and social — affect the lives of people locally and globally. “

Its slogan, “a free paper for free people”,  adheres a libertarian philosophy to The Indypendent‘s mission, which seems to be the root of its success, as the publication has earned more than 50 awards for excellence in journalism, as well as a strong core of supporters and readers all over the nation.

Assuming this unattached ideology to the way news should be approached and communicated is what makes The Indypendent, a particular and interesting publication, especially in an industry that seems to care more about its commercial interests than its social contract with the people.  (Which is not objectivity, according to the renowned philosopher and media critic, Noam Chomsky.)

One of the writers for The Indypendent is Peter Rugh, a self-titled muckraker-at-large, who contributes to other alternative mediums such as VICE and Waging Non-Violence. Rugh’s articles explore a wide range of topics, from the increasing closings of New York City hospitals, the Keystone pipeline controversies, to the wages protests by fast-food workers.

I believe Rugh’s articles are a reflection of the kind of journalism we need to see more of. The ideology than mediums like the ones I mentioned, or the topics that Rugh covers are largely left-leaning, seem ridiculous to me.  Journalists should not forget that advocacy journalism can also be fact-based and have a purpose at the same time.

Because if one lives life with a purpose, why would one write something without it?


A Demo Night for Media Startups

Pizza, soda, and the business of journalism were the glue and motivation behind the media startups demo night organized on March 20 by the Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

With diverse styles and methodologies to the world of publishing, five local startups showed off their latest innovations and projects while briefly talking about the current trends seen in media.

“It is kind of an amazing time to be doing anything related with content, whether you are a journalist or a marketer,” said David Spitz, President and CEO of RebelMouse, an online platform that allows users to combine social media content into their websites. Some of its clients include Time magazine, NBC news reporter Ann Curry and General Electric, among others.

Although demo nights are usually used as platforms to launch new startups and pitch their ideas to investors, this particular event highlighted the work of these young media companies, who are experimenting with business models that are quite different to those used by traditional media.

“Even if people don’t necessarily have to pay for content, if they understand what you are doing and like what you are doing, they will be interested in supporting,” said Thomas Rhiel, founder of BLKNYR, a two-dollar-a-month, subscription-based online publication that creates in-depth and interactive stories about underreported topics, communities and areas of Brooklyn. “People can read about Brooklyn, but I think we have established a voice that people are responding to, ” he also said.

Besides the novelty of these economic models, originality and resourcefulness in regards to content distribution and design were also common traits among the exhibiting startups.

Two of them were: 29th Street Publishing, a magazine publishing company that develops simple-yet-attractive mobile applications for small and freelance writers and independent editors and Howler, a crowdfunded magazine about soccer that is published only four times a year, but that has increased its popularity thanks to its artistic illustrations, a modern design approach, and the use of well-researched articles about the history of the most popular sport in the world.

The innovations presented in areas such as content creation and distribution, businesses and design were also of key interest to those who attended the event.

“It’s amazing how these small startups are using all these modern tools to create beautiful and interesting projects,” said Giancarlo Castiglioni, a graphic design student at Queens College. “Journalism is not my major, but you can really see how these new mediums are working harder and harder to innovate and change the industry. I think it’s somewhat of a revolution.”