Ripple, a new platform that uses location technology to provide local news coverage, is launching publicly today (10 May) after securing $4 million (£2.76 million) in funding from investors, including the Knight Foundation in the United States.
"I wanted to build a simple app where you could see what stories are breaking in different places and see which ones can ripple from the origin to the rest of the world," said Razmig Hovaghimian, Ripple's founder and chief executive officer.
Users who open Ripple on their smartphone can log in with their Facebook or Twitter account and will initially be served a list of global stories. From the Explore tab within the app, they can then select their city or a different location to get local coverage.
This coverage is a combination of wider, city-level stories and more hyperlocal pieces from individual neighbourhoods.
Part of the content is produced by Ripple's selected team of volunteer correspondents, a mix of citizen journalists, bloggers and reporters from each of the cities covered, who write about the news and events happening in their area.
Ripple curates the stories in its newsfeeds based on proximity to the user, how popular a story is within the Ripple community and how recent it is.
Ripple became available in beta in January 2016 in San Francisco and Oakland.
Hovaghimian told Journalism.co.uk that prior to the launch, the team analysed and mapped roughly 17,000 verified Twitter accounts of journalists, as well as Twitter lists, Instagram posts and content from other social media platforms and discovered that less than five per cent of the content was geotagged.
"It was broken at a local level and not just because of the location, but you couldn't even break it down by topic or look for more evergreen content if you wanted to.
"With Ripple, we wanted to build a group where people can report on where they live and work, not necessarily on the things that make it into the mass media."
The platform aims for its business model to be a mix of advertising revenue, split between Ripple and its local partners, and syndication.
The next step is expanding the community of correspondents and the number of cities it covers, as well as developing additional features to link the app to other local services.
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