There’s no reason there should be an unbreakable wall between publisher and reader in this day and age. We want to create a fully distributed news service.
When Austen Allred, founder of Grasswire.com, lived in Ukraine, he noticed a disturbing trend in Ukrainian news. Then later, when living in China, he noticed the same disturbing trend in Chinese news. Both Ukrainians and Chinese citizens received inaccurate information about world events and the events shaping their own countries. “I saw how devastating inaccurate information can be for societies and economies, and started to see those same inconsistencies in the United States. That was troubling me,” Allred says.
Then, Allred witnessed the Arab Spring, an uprising many attribute to the work of underground journalists, and realized the importance of delivering citizens of the world accurate information in real time. “I became a little bit crazy about making sure that everyone had a place where their voice could be heard,” Allred said. So he created Grasswire.com.
The goal of Grasswire.com is to create a platform and community that allows anyone to become a reporter. Grasswire is open to contributions from anyone who is willing to meet journalistic standards. “We want to allow anyone to participate in the journalistic process,” Allred says. “There’s no reason there should be an unbreakable wall between publisher and reader in this day and age. We want to create a fully distributed news service.”
The key to a fully distributed news service, as Allred explains it, is putting knowledge and time to good use. Users utilize their particular knowledge to contribute in real time and provide reliable and accurate news. “People can jump in and contribute in their area of expertise whenever it’s necessary,” Allred says. “So when there are riots in Baltimore we have people in the newsroom who are experts in riot control and know the difference between tear gas and smoke bombs. When something is happening in Yemen, we have people who grew up there and know where in Sana bombs are being dropped.”
While Grasswire.com is currently focused on world news, Allred and his team plan to expand into other verticals very soon and access the expertise of even more users willing and anxious to contribute their knowledge on time. “On aggregate there is an enormous amount of that knowledge and time, so that is a very big deal,” Allred says.