Shafqat Islam, NewsCred
What NewsCred does: The business is similar to a news wire service—NewsCred licenses, curates, and syndicates full-text news articles, images, and videos, both from traditional journalism sources, and beyond, including The Economist, The Guardian, and Bloomberg. They serve two categories of clients who license their content: traditional publishers, such as the New York Daily News, Forbes, and Business Insider, and corporate and consumer brands, such as Johnson & Johnson.
How it’s changing the game: While licensing and syndicating content has been done for years by services like Associated Press and Reuters, NewsCred does so with sophisticated, semantic technology. This technology automatically organizes all of the content NewsCred licenses by topic, whether it’s Barack Obama and healthcare reform, or the Japanese car industry and climate change. “We’re doing all of this algorithmically, and then we have a team of human editors and curators to add a human touch before we distribute it via an API (application programming interface) to all our clients,” says Islam. “Fundamentally, the business is built on top of a really powerful API. We felt this industry was very antiquated. There hadn’t been much innovation. So we thought the platform and delivery method should all be API-based so our clients can slice and dice the content and the data and pull whatever they want to use.”
This technology allows publishers—both traditional and corporate—to create new verticals of content without having to add additional staff. For example, the New York Daily News wanted to publish international and local Asian news on its website to target the underserved and growing South Asian communities. With NewsCred’s technology, the company designed, built, and launched the site; licensed and curated the content to serve this demographic; and saved the News from having to hire additional editors and journalists.
Neither Islam nor his co-founders, Asif Rahman and Iraj Islam, have a journalism background. In fact, Islam was working in technology at Merrill Lynch before founding NewsCred. “I almost characterize us as misfits and outsiders when it comes to the media business or the journalism industry,” says Islam. “Being from within an industry that’s struggling is not necessarily the best way to solve some of the problems within that industry. That’s my personal view and I think that’s helped us be successful because we took a really objective outsiders’ look to come in and help solve some of these problems.”
What’s next: Islam and his team are focused on business development and they see a lot of opportunity for infusing much-needed change into the outdated media business model. “There are so many articles about how the journalism industry is broken or how newspapers are screwed,” says Islam. “We [at NewsCred] got frustrated by that and said, ‘This industry needs to survive. And it shouldn’t just survive, it needs to thrive.’ I think it’s so important that it happen.”
Photography by Jill Lotenberg
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org