Newsana: Who do you trust to tell you what’s important?

Trust is what many traditional news organizations use to promote their relevance, stating they are a trusted brand to cut through the noise.

The pitch goes something like this: ‘We are a trusted brand, we have been a part of the community for x years… We will continue to tell you what you need to know.’

Toronto startup Newsana (think of it as a nirvana for news junkies) places its trust in the hands of its community of virtual editors.

Newsana is a nirvana for news junkies, curated by news junkies, co-founder Ben Peterson explained in an interview from his Kensington office.

To become a Newsana member, there is a rigorous application process where candidates are verified as actual people with credible social media accounts and a general interest in news. (Peterson said the goal is to weed out trolls and create a community of the most engaged news readers.)

Once a member of the Newsana’s community, contributors/editors have free access to ‘pitch’ links to stories in their choice of five of Newsana’s 40 sections (ie social media, future of news, Canadian politics, etc.).

Why access to only five? Peterson said this ensures community editors focus on areas they know best.

Links to stories are not just posted to Newsana’s site, they are annotated by members. Community Editors making the pitch must give a brief intro to the piece, this may also include editorial comment.

Why submit/share/pitch to Newsana? Other editors can vote on your story, which will elevate it on Newsana’s site, thus giving an editor more credibility, and increasing their standing in the Newsana community.

The Newsana team. Peterson is “the tall guy in the back.”

Pandering to a journalist’s ego and competitiveness is a clever move – I was skeptical until I pitched a story on the senate in Canadian politics section and saw it – and consequently my Newsana rep – elevate.

Naturally this made me want to pitch more stories to the Newsana community of about 1,500 members.

Peterson said he knows this isn’t a large community – yet – but as the site is just in beta, he is confident it will grow.

There are a couple of issues with Newsana: first, it’s only as strong as its members.

Also Newsana’s biggest competitors are the more established, traditional larger social media networks like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.

How Newsana differs from these competitors are by its “quality” community news curators, Peterson said. These aren’t just old high school pals.

“Our audience is news junkies. These are people who read the news, comment on news… They want the best, highest quality journalism.”

“At the end of the day, people have to figure out where to allocate their time,” Peterson said.

As with all startups, Newsana is focused on establishing a sustainable business model as it builds.

The goal is to build an active, informed community and monetize around that, Peterson said.

Newsana is exploring native-branded content, which might include custom content in one of Newsana’s sections; Premium elements for paying subscribers/editors; and story sponsorship (As an example, Peterson said readers might find the top five innovation stories sponsored by IBM.)

Without a marketing budget, this small start up is relying on what Peterson refers to as the ‘viral co-efficient,’ with members telling their friends about it, and getting the word out.

“Our biggest challenge is to cut through the noise, and make people aware of what we’re doing.”

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