Leading African Media Organization Announces $1 Million Fund for News Innovation

Posted in: Media, News- Aug 08, 2012 No Comments

The African News Innovation Challenge is looking to transform the way that African media work with significant and tangible improvements to existing tools or techniques, or new ways for African journalists to gather news, tell stories, engage with audiences, or sustain media organizations.

Next2 has joined with PenPlusBytes in proposing The African Citizen Journalist Exchange Network (ACJEN) as a crowd-sourced news platform that will allow journalist and citizens to discover, share and collaborate on locally relevant news stories.  The platform will allow media, journalist and elected officials to quickly and cost effectively deliver news and information to mobile phones using a mobile network operator’s short message service (SMS).

 ACJEN is built on top of Next2′s  geo-fence and content fulfillment services that are accessible via the internet or by SMS.  As part of the ACJEN project the Next2 platform and software will be modify to provide the following:

Posting using Mobile Web

Reportnews and readnews purpose words.

The first word of a message denotes the purpose, or intent, of the message and is used to determine how messages are matched and exchanged.  For the ACJEN project Next2 will add two new purpose words; reportnews and readnews.  Citizens and journalist may use reportnews or readnews at the beginning of a message to automatically match and exchange messages with other users.

In the mobile version (shown at left) users will be able to select reportnews or readnews from a selection list, enter the topic of their post and then their message.  All messages are processed for matching and exchanged among users at the top of each hour.

Uses

  1. Citizens will use reportnews to automatically share news with other citizens and journalists based on a common location.
  2. Citizens will use readnews to read news reports from other citizens or journalists.
  3. Journalists will use reportnews to alert local citizens to news reports, solicit citizen feedback/help or to fact check a story.
  4. Journalists will use readnews to automatically be notified of new reportnews by citizens or other journalists.
  5. Citizens and journalists will be able to browse or search readnews and reportnews messages by location.

Benefits

ACJEN provides citizens and journalists an easy-to-use, private, automated way to exchange news reports by common location and shared topics of interest.

Get Journalist by SMS 

Get keyword and messages

ACJEN content fulfillment service allows journalist and media properties to provide information to the public by SMS.  A journalist registers for the service by creating a ACJEN account name.  The journalist can then create keywords and messages that work with the keyword.  To get a list of a journalist current keywords a mobile user texts get journalist to the ACJEN text message phone number of their country.  To get information on a specific topic a mobile user texts get journalist keyword.

Uses

  1. Journalists can use the get command to provide a wide range of information on specific topics quickly and cost effectively direct to mobile phones.
  2. Journalist can monitor whom is requesting their information and follow-up by text message using the ACJEN software.
  3. Journalists can easily incorporate ACJEN get journalist SMS instructions directly into their print, broadcast and web reporting
  4. Citizens can quickly and easily access specific information about a journalist, or current news story, using their mobile phone.

Benefits

  1. Journalists can provide up-to-date information about their professional activities, current news stories and solicit feedback/help direct to mobile phones.
  2. Citizens can interact with journalists in an easy-to-use, inexpensive, private manner right from their mobile phones.
  3. Citizens’ privacy is protected.
  4. The service requires no special equipment or expertise and operates 24/7/365.
  5. Journalist can update their keyword(s) or messages at anytime by logging into their Next2 account.

ACJEN News Hub Software

The ACJEN project will provide journalist and media owners an easy, inexpensive way to offer a SMS telephone number that readers or listeners can use to read or report news or reach journalists by sending a  ”get journalist”  SMS request.   A news organization can download the ACJEN News Hub Software and install it on a smartphone with a data connection.  The news organization then registers the smartphone number with the ACJEN platform.  Once registered the smartphone’s mobile number acts like a SMS gateway and  forwards all text messages it receives to the ACJEN platform for processing.  Outgoing messages are processed using the Next2 platform which is integrated in 100+ countries.

Uses

  1. Provides local SMS number to readers or listeners.
  2. Provides local SMS number for reporting or reading news by SMS or on mobile phone.
  3. Provides local SMS number to reach journalists or news staff.
  4. Can support the business operation of news organization.
  5. News organizations can offer readers and listeners an exciting new SMS/Mobile web news service
  6. News organizations can integrate their ACJEN News Hub number into their print and broadcast reports.
Benefits
  1. Turns a smartphone into a SMS gateway for news organization
  2. Provides a local SMS number that news organizations can use to provide readers and listeners news on mobile phones
  3. Low cost as citizens pay to send a text message to the News Hub.

Summary

The African Citizen Journalist Exchange Network allows news organizations to leverage mobile phones and citizen reporting in new and exciting ways.  Through the auspices of a news organizations ACJEN provides the software, the platform and the connectivity to facilitate citizens-to-citizen and citizen-to-journalist interaction.  It gives news organization a new way to use mobile to provide information to a community audience.  It gives news organizations a platform to experiment with soliciting audience participation in the news gathering and productions process.  And, it provides community members with a safe, reliable and private way to interact with news makers, reporters and other community members.

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