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Citizen journalism app uses crowdsourcing to determine top stories

Citizen journalism app uses crowdsourcing to determine top stories

Natasha Tynes | June 13, 2012

After the Arab Spring, news organizations and entrepreneurs are in a race to create a citizen journalism app that can harness the power of people to report on events around the globe.

One of the newest competitors is the brainchild of Mark Malkoun, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Lebanon. Malkoun hopes his iPhone app Siggly will gain critical mass where other citizen journalism apps have not.

Its killer feature? A Reddit-like system where people’s votes along with algorithms determine the day’s top stories. After users create mini-stories by capturing events with their iPhone cameras and geotagging them, the community votes on those stories. Geotagging channels those stories to users registered in the same location, which should make the content more relevant to them.

Malkoun believes the Arab Spring has inspired many in the region to invest in technological innovation.

“Technology has proved to be very important in the eyes of the Arab world because in many cases, it gave them freedom," Malkoun told IJNet. "In the Arab world, citizen journalism was, in many cases, the only source of believable news. Now that the people realize its potential, there can only be an increase in demand and interest in it.”

Siggly users retain copyright but grant a license to the app to display content on its network. Citizen journalists are not paid for the content they produce, although Malkoun says he's in talks with various news organizations about offering content to them. The interface will be available only in English at first, but Malkoun plans to add more languages. At the moment, it only accepts photos, but video uploads are in the works as is an Android version.

First billed as Signal when it made the rounds of the international press, it's undergoing a name change to what Malkoun hopes is the more memorable Siggly. Available to the public next month, the app will be free of charge to users.

You can sign up to try it here.

Screen shot courtesy of Mark Malkoun