By Dan Simon, CEO and Co-Founder of Vested, parent company of Qwoted
Journalists used to be heroes. It was said that there were three kinds of people who ran toward a disaster: the police, firemen...and reporters. Thomas Jefferson wrote that given the choice between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, “...I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Yet the media today is under attack.
A perfect storm of technology and politics is placing historically high stresses on this noble profession and pushing many newsrooms, veteran reporters and independent freelancers to their breaking point. Who in their right mind would sign up for journalism school today?
The great irony, of course, is that we have never needed a strong, healthy and independent press more than we do today - as a check on the deluge of misinformation that besets us as well as on the powerful interests who spread it.
The challenge is a structural one. Reporters sit on the most valuable asset in modern history, more valuable than gold, oil or bitcoin. That asset is attention. They summon it, harness it, and point it at companies and politicians who grow successful as a result. But journalistic integrity and the separation of editorial and publishing means reporters have no legitimate mechanism to leverage this asset. Instead, an entire industry (the field of public relations) was created to monetize an asset that writers couldn’t or wouldn’t take advantage of.
As long as publishers were willing to invest in quality journalism, this structural flaw could be papered over. But once technology platforms began hacking away at publishers’ margins, their willingness to invest began to be hacked away with it. Publishers have largely learned to adapt to this new digital future but their appetite for brutal cost-cutting once acquired, was hard to let go of. As a consequence, we have an industry where almost everyone is making money except the very people who produce the content the industry is built upon. Tech platforms get rich, publishers get rich, advertisers get rich, PRs get rich. Reporters get laid off.
Qwoted is on a mission to solve this problem.
Firstly, we aim to give the media an amazing free expert platform and idea tool that helps them write better stories faster. Reporters are under increasing pressure to deliver more quality content on shorter deadlines. By giving them everything they need for their stories in one place, Qwoted is designed to give them more time back in their day.
Secondly, Qwoted puts reporters in greater control of the information that reaches them. Unlike email which gets cluttered and filled with irrelevant outreach, Qwoted enables reporters to filter who can pitch them and what they want to see. Qwoted is designed to identify and filter out spam, penalizing users for wasting reporters’ time.
Finally, Qwoted is committed to redistributing value to the reporters and writers who use it.
For now, that means points, leaderboards, giveaways and special features for power users. In the future though, we want to explore ways to tax the systems that have become rich on the backs of reporters: corporations, publishers, advertisers and PRs, and redistribute this income directly back into the pockets of our media users, fixing this industry’s systemic flaw.
Reporters produce the first rough draft of history. It’s time to put the power back in the hands of these important storytellers.