Sunday, October 7, 2007

Newsvine Acquired By MSNBC - Leading Citizen Journalism Site Snapped Up by MSM

Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson just contacted Read/WriteWeb to announce that his citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture. Davidson told us that "Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006." He also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site -- which is great news, because in our review of Newsvine in July, we noted that Newsvine "is probably more advanced in its design than other CJ sites, often trying new things and design techniques." Indeed I can't wait to see how MSNBC integrates some of the Newsvine features, which Davidson said will happen: "Over the next few years, Newsvine technology and content will make its way onto, and vice-versa where it makes sense."

Newsvine officially became part of the family on Friday, October 5th, but Davidson said that they'd "been talking since May." The company will continue to be based inn Seattle, the home of MSNBC.

In our July review of Newsvine, we noted that Newsvine gets about 1.2 million unique visitors per month and it has grown at an average rate of 46% per quarter. Newsvine community members view an average of 21 pages per day and spend an average of 143 minutes per month on the site. The site gets about 80,000 comments a month and 250,000 votes a month.

The explanation of why from Davidson is also interesting:

"Why would a young, efficient independent news startup become part of a large organization? For us, the answer is simple: it's all about growing the community and spreading the idea of participatory news as far and wide as possible. Although going from zero to over a million users a month in less than two years is heartening, operates on another scale entirely. While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the 'Vine. In order to spread this idea further, we could have gone out and raised a lot of money, quadrupled our staff, and gone it alone, but when one of the finest news organizations in the world is headquartered right across Lake Washington, the potential of partnering with such a great team is dramatic. We feel strongly that we can learn from the successes of their experienced team, in a way that will empower Newsvine to become the worldwide mouthpiece of the citizen journalist."

For a deeper understanding of the attraction of Newsvine to MSNBC, check out our review of Newsvine in July - which also doubled as an introduction into The State of Citizen Journalism. Here is an extract:

Citizen Journalism (henceforth CJ) is a classic example of the read/write web in action. In a product sense, it is a news publication built using the voices and recommendations of ordinary citizens, or 'users' in Web-speak. The readers are the writers and editors, unlike traditional journalism which is written/edited by the 'few' (professional journalists) for the 'many' (consumers). [...]

Newsvine is a good example of a startup CJ site aiming to be a mainstream news destination. Along with most of the other current CJ sites, Newsvine uses many of the tenets of 'web 2.0' in its design - such as user-generated content, reputation, voting, comments, friends lists, tags, and more. It allows users to 'seed' stories, by adding a link and short description. Or users can write a full article. Newsvine is probably more advanced in its design than other CJ sites, often trying new things and design techniques - e.g. the Newsvis, a color-coded visual representation of a user's impact on the site.

The site opened as a private beta in December 2005 and was officially launched on March 1, 2006. For a full feature run-down, see Read/WriteWeb's Social News Faceoff last October - which has a chart of features for Newsvine and three other sites (digg, reddit, netscape). As Alex Iskold noted in that post, Newsvine has an outstanding user interface - it illustrates that a lot of features and a lot of information can be presented in a simple and digestible way.

Check out the full post for stats and more analysis.

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