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The foundations of Newsmodo began when Australian television journalist Rakhal Ebeli noticed his role as a reporter increasingly included acting as "a third-party broker" between the newsroom and members of the community offering user-generated content.

Ebeli's first step was to start work on creating newsme.com.au, which set out with aims of being a "basic site" where people could submit user-generated content and a team would then "broker that content to news networks on behalf of the uploader", Ebeli told Journalism.co.uk.

But there was a shift in the direction of this venture after Ebeli was approached by a businessman with "the opportunity to redevelop that concept as Newsmodo", with a move from citizen journalism to a platform which would offer "the functionality to support a community of journalists and freelancers which we see as being a rapidly expanding demographic".

"We want to create a very high standard of content that will be submitted to the marketplace," Ebeli told Journalism.co.uk.

"Not only are [media buyers] then getting the highest quality content and being able to source pictures or video from people who are trustworthy and have the credentials to supply that type of material, but it also creates a standard for our contributors.

"We want, especially initially, to set a very high standard in that way and hopefully that will then carry on into the weeks and months and years to come with where the business model is going to continue."

The platform enables journalists, including freelancers, to build portfolios and submit content – be it images, video or text – to the platform, which can then be purchased by news organisations.

What we see as being unique to Newsmodo is that it offers the media a one-stop-shop to source newsworthy content worldwideRakhal Ebeli
"What we see as being unique to Newsmodo is that it offers the media a one-stop-shop to source newsworthy content worldwide, so they can access this secure platform and be able to find images, video and also copy.

"... What we'll allow contributors to do is to submit their work in any manipulation, or any combination, of copy, or images and videos. So you might have excellent copy that could be supported by a couple of pictures, or a video and three pictures, or whatever combination the freelancer or contributor feels will best tell their story.

"They can package that up and submit it to the marketplace, set a price and have that sold at both an extended licence level, effectively exclusively to one media buyer, or on multiple licences to multiple buyers."

News outlets also have the ability to set assignments, which can be picked up by the platform's network of freelance contributors, and can also be set to apply to specific geographical areas.

"We really feel that the shifting sands in the way that the industry has moved, especially in terms of job placements and the scaling down of a lot of the larger organisations, both in print and in broadcast news media, a lot of the work now is being done by freelancers.

"So we see this as being a really interesting space for us to position ourselves in, in that through the platform the media will be able to effectively outsource the coverage of news events that they need, and they can do that fast and cost-effectively by setting assignments on the platform which can be distributed to our network of contributors around the world.

He added that the system will enable freelancers to indicate to a news outlet their interest in an assignment, before they go ahead with the work, to try and ensure freelancers do not carry out work unnecessarily. News outlets can also set out exactly how many freelancers they require.

"That way the media are then also empowered to see who's accepted the assignment and then find the best people for the job," Ebeli added.

Building up its network of freelancers "has been quite easy", he said, describing the response so far as "overwhelming".

"I really feel that this is a time of real change in the industry where a lot of journalists are learning new skillsets because they're not just doing the role of a print or television or radio reporter. They're learning to edit, they're crossing over those different mediums, so they're looking for new ways and new avenues for opportunity.

"So in effect it's been quite easy, it's an attractive proposition for this growing number of professionals to get on board the Newsmodo project and seek those opportunities in a space that they believe the media is heading."

Newsmodo is also working with universities in Australia and abroad, he added, which could see students getting involved in assignments and therefore gaining experience in the industry.

"For the students to find new avenues to bridge that gap between their classroom and the industry which is already, from where we're looking at it as journalists or people who have worked in the industry for a long time, is becoming more and more difficult to get your foot in the door."

The "first iteration" of the site is due to launch in February, with the full Newsmodo platform due to be live later this year. A mobile app, which contributors can use to submit content and check assignments, is also due for its first iteration launch around the same time.

Ebeli added that there are news outlets "in every continent now that have expressed interest as being clients", and he is confident Newsmodo will "definitely going to be going global very quickly".

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