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Newscoop: A Facebook for news

May 28, 2019

The Amsterdam-based startup aims to democratize news by leveraging a global network of citizen journalists. The platform is harnessing blockchain technology to verify its content and keep a check on fake news.

Camilla Warrender and Anurag Wakhlu from Newscoop
Image: DW/B. Scheid

The idea of Newscoop was conceived during the height of the Bosnian War. Back then, the online platform's founder Camilla Warrender, a professional pianist, was working in Sarajevo with her friend, Swedish actress Bibi Anderson, to provide cultural relief for the Bosnians under siege.

The political advocate in her soon realized how information was being manipulated by the Bosnian Serb forces and their supporters and how atrocities were being underreported by others who tried to avoid involvement which allowed the genocide to continue unhindered.

"By the end of the war I determined that I was going to do whatever I could to help young people inform each other about world events," Warrender told DW. "That was the seed of Newscoop."

More than two decades later, Warrender teamed up with Anurag Wakhlu, a serial tech entrepreneur, to set up Newscoop. 

"We met at a startup meet and realized we had the same vision for a global news platform and community," 47-year-old Wakhlu told DW. "A platform where news is by the people, for the people and not news by a limited set of people for rest of the people."

Facebook for news

The two aim to empower people all around the world by giving them a voice and also give the end users a "personal expression" of how a news event plays out in real life.

"Facebook brought a platform for people to share their social lives, in that way we are bringing a platform for people to share their experiences," Wakhlu said. "But in spirit we are like Wikipedia. There is a little bit of co-creation there, there is also a little peer-to-peer checking in Wikipedia, we are trying to build that spirit of fact-checking, co-creation and collaboration."

The platform is using blockchain technology to verify the content its contributors are putting out and to reward them for their inputs.

"We want to give back to the contributors. We eventually package that content to other media outlets, which is a part of our revenue model," Wakhlu said. "We want that money to go back to the people who provided that content. That's also why we are using blockchain, which is the strongest way now in technology terms to attribute who provided what and how much they provided."

Do you know what blockchain is?

Media startup boot camp

Amsterdam-based Newscoop was one of the 12 startups shortlisted from across the world to take part in a boot camp for media startups organized by DW as part of this year's Global Media Forum (GMF). Newscoop was selected as the winner at the end of the three-day event for its potential to be globally scalable.

"I think they have a very smart model. It combines a trustworthy editorial platform with a technical blockchain-based platform," Joachim Vranken, a serial entrepreneur and a member of the jury, told DW. "They are using blockchain technology to keep a check on fake news. That was a key point that convinced us in the jury."

Warrender and Wakhlu will now receive tailor-made training from DW Academy and an opportunity to showcase their concept at the GMF.

"It's overwhelming. There were so many good startups in the boot camp, each different from the other — developed AI companies as well as younger companies with a real social purpose," Warrender said. "I think both Anurag and I see them as future partners for us and that is also incredibly exciting."

Portrait photo of Ashutosh Pandey wearing a blue collared shirt and a navy-blue blazer
Ashutosh Pandey Business editor with a focus on international trade, financial markets and the energy sector.@ashutoshpande85
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