Mainstream media types may gripe about the absence of safeguards ensuring the validity of news reported by the blogosphere, but nowhere are the merits of citizen journalism more apparent than at NowPublic. At this "participatory news network," a.k.a. bastion of "crowd-powered media," anyone can write a story, or upload images, audio or video. Whatever gets the most votes from the reading massesthe site gets about 1 million unique vistiors per monthends up as the lead story. (NowPublic has "guest editors," "wranglers" and an "actual news guy" who keep an eye on things, giving advice to contributing reporters and shepherding the best, most timely stuff through, but nobody on staff makes actual editing changes to the content.)
NowPublic now counts nearly 97,000 contributing reporters in more than 140 countries around the world. During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic was there; eight contributors filed on-the-scene reports from London's Heathrow Airport during the August 2006 terrorism lockdownwhile the regular press was forced to wait outside. On June 6 NowPublic's coverage of a storm in Oman made it to the top of the AOL and Yahoo news sites. As part of its partnership with the Associated Press, NowPublic reporters now help the wire service gather footage on the ground. "We wanted to build a next-generation wire service that counted for the accidental bystanders, the storm chasers," co-founder Leonard Brody says. "And with digital capturing devices now in the average person's hand, they can be first when there's breaking news."