International news translation platform Worldcrunch plans to expand its aggregation efforts in a big way—by enlisting the help of its contributors in finding “crunch" worthy articles from around the world, Nieman Journalism Lab reported.
Founded last year by Jeff Israely and Irène Toporkoff in Paris, Worldcrunch translates 20-30 articles per week written by its international news partners, which include French daily newspaper Le Monde and German daily Die Welt, as we previously reported. The articles, chosen by Worldcrunch’s team of journalists and covering topics such as politics to entertainment, are meant to provide English readers with broader perspectives of international affairs, as well as highlighting the viewpoints of citizens from the countries in question.
Worldcrunch has been touted as an appealing option in the face of reductions in foreign news coverage, as we previously reported. And the trend seems to extend past English-speaking readership: French weekly magazine Courrier International and Italian weekly Internazionale provide similar services for French and Italian readers, respectively.
Now, Worldcrunch wants to expand its curation capabilities. The company is in the process of developing a new function, called Crunch It, which will allow contributors to nominate an article or blog post for translation, “English-ize” it, and then vote for the best articles posted each day by country and topic, according to the website.
The concept is still in its planning stages, however, as there are several questions regarding filtering and platform construction that Worldcrunch must consider before launching, according to Nieman Journalism Lab. For example, Worldcrunch standards require not only that the article not already be available in English, but that the story not require a great deal of added context in order to appeal to an Anglophone audience, the article said.
Editors Weblog spoke with Worldcrunch cofounder Jeff Israely about the company’s plans for Crunch It and some of the platform’s logistical challenges.
Building a platform from the inside out
Israely said Worldcrunch has already begun transitioning into its new platform by publishing news briefs, or shorter segments of articles written by their newspaper partners, on the website.
“We’re building this platform one step at a time,” Israely said. “What we’re going to start doing now with Crunch It is to take that process of writing shorter pieces and bringing in content, and putting our own touch on original content, [and] do that with everything we can find out there in the press and on the internet.”
Israely emphasized that when Crunch It initially launches sometime this May, it will not be a full-blown crowdsourcing platform, but will in fact be curated by the Worldcrunch team and its contributors in order to establish a high quality of journalism.
“It’s still going to be our professionals, journalists, and editors who are choosing the stories and producing them,” he said. “We’re going to see how it works.”
“In the past, there have been news crowdsourcing platforms launched in which the platform is created, and then they hope that the journalism follows,” he explained. “But, what has often happened is that these kinds of platforms either don’t get the traction, or don’t have the quality, or both, that can turn it into something that becomes an interesting and reliable source of information. And so we want to take it one step at a time and build the platform in a smart way, starting in-house and figuring out what the best way is to, step-by-step, open it up to journalists around the world and to readers, and part-time and would-be journalists and bloggers, around the world.”
Israely also noted that the team still needs to develop filtering mechanisms before accepting content from readers.
“We have to figure out a way to do it that makes it efficient, where we don’t waste a lot of our time sifting through bad quality content that’s coming in,” he said. “We want to first establish what we think, more or less, the content should look like, where it should come from, and set standards accordingly. And so, we’re going to begin to build it from the inside out, rather than just launch a platform and just open it up and get lost in the mountain of stuff coming in.”
A platform for journalists
Within the next few weeks, Israely said the team plans to transition from creating new content in-house to opening the platform up to foreign-language readers, who would be able to share articles with the staff that they find interesting. From there, Crunch It may go one step further and allow readers to submit pieces that they’ve translated themselves, transitioning into a platform that much more resembles crowdsourcing, he said.
Once readers become involved, he said, the platform will also take on social networking characteristics.
“In and of itself, the moment that you begin to ask readers to comment, to suggest, to share what they’re reading…that, in itself, is social, and so it’s inevitably a social media kind of process,” he said. At the same time, he said, “we want it to always have some real news value.”
Israely said that another of the goals for Crunch It is to eventually establish a network within the website for all of its contributors. At the moment, he said, Worldcrunch has a team page on the website which lists all of their contributing journalists, but he plans for each writer to soon have a “team member” page. Each page will list the contributor’s name, photo, bio, links to their Twitter and other social media accounts, and links to all of their content, including full translations and news briefs.
“What we do know is that we want to be a platform for journalists,” he said. “We want to be a place where journalists and foreign correspondents and translators who have an interest and an eye for news...can all do their work and make a living.”
Israely said that the team is still determining the economics of the platform, and that the company plans to launch Crunch It sometime in May.
“Over the next weeks, you’ll be able to see what this content looks like, who’s producing it, and how you can imagine Worldcrunch being a place where foreign correspondents can do their work,” he said.