Vancouver-based NowPublic, a citizen journalism website that boasts of contributing reporters in 160 countries around the world, has been bought by U.S. media firm Examiner.com.
The acquisition was announced Tuesday by NowPublic co-founder Leonard Brody and Examiner.com chief executive officer Rick Blair. Financial terms were not disclosed but business website PaidContent.org reported the value of the deal at about $25-million.
"We launched in April 2008 in about five cities in the United States and we're in 109 markets here now with about 17 million readers," Blair said in an interview.
"NowPublic, on the other hand, is a worldwide company with a super technology base and some visionary leaders, so I think what that means is we'll be able to take advantage of their technology."
Both companies will continue to operate their websites independently, but Brody said combining NowPublic's tools and audience with Examiner.com's established local content generators is win-win.
"The NowPublic focus has always been on providing individuals, whether they are amateurs or professional journalists, the tools they need to quickly and easily contribute their perspectives on the issues of the day and the topics that interest them and their community," Brody said.
"We are enabling Examiner.com, which has already seen incredible success, to further succeed in providing a site that attracts experts as contributors, passionate readers and the advertisers that want to reach them."
Examiner.com, a division of the Clarity Digital Group, is owned by The Anschutz Company, a Denver-based investment firm with assets in media, live sports and entertainment, hospitality, film production and exhibition, wind energy, as well as ranching and oil and gas exploration.
Examiner.com's 15,000 citizen journalists, or "examiners," already tackle community issues in dozens of U.S. markets. Blair said the company's hyperlocal content is changing perceptions about the profitability of such ventures.
"Examiner.com is rapidly becoming the solution to the hyperlocal puzzle," he said, adding that the acquisition will allow Examiner.com to distribute 3,000 to 4,000 stories every day.
Among the technologies Examiner.com will adopt from NowPublic are its real-time mechanisms for scanning online conversations, which also allow for real-time advertisements, and enhanced publishing platforms.
Examiner.com will also recruit reporters from NowPublic to increase both its Canadian and international presence.
"In the early days of the company, when we were first starting, when Hurricane Katrina had hit Louisiana, we had more people on the ground in the affected areas than Reuters had reporters worldwide," said Brody.
"What was interesting was not the quantity of the number, it was the kind of things they were reporting about. It was really the human side of what was happening, not about the shock and awe."
Brody said citizen journalism sites like NowPublic were responsible for reuniting hundreds of families who had been separated.
More recently, he said, NowPublic's scanning of online conversations turned up an unusual amount of chatter in Guatemala.
"As we dug down deeper and connected with people at the scene we realized there was a coup happening in Guatemala City and we ended up reporting it hours before anybody else picked it up," Brody said.