Citizen journalism site Helium.com has secured $17millon in funding. According to a press release from businesswire.com, the financial backing is from an international group of investors led by Signature Capital LLC.
“Helium‘s unique platforms put the power of citizen engagement behind media publications, enabling them to engage readers in a way that will help grow audiences and increase reader loyalty,“ said Bill Turner, principal of Signature Capital, in the release.
“With Helium.com, we are bringing our financial resources to further accelerate this growth in citizen journalism, and to support Helium‘s objectives towards providing solutions to newspapers at a time when budgets are shrinking and ad revenues are down.“
The site currently has a community of over 150,000 writers covering subjects from politics to pets and sport to science. The website’s terms have recently been changed to promote higher quality content. The changes include allowing ‘starred writers’ to receive payment upfront for new articles.
Citizen journalism site Helium.com has drawn criticism from members of its own community by suggesting changes to the way they attribute payments to their users.
Site developers want to change the payment system to reward the most active participants.
‘Helium pays a portion of its advertising revenue to people who write the most widely read stories on the site-popularity that is based on user reviews from members,’ wrote News.com:
‘But the company suggested that its new system would pay only those people who maintain a “single-star” rating on the site, which means that they wouldn’t just write, but they also would need to review as many as 40 stories within 90 days, according to the company’s original post. Anyone who fell below a single-star rating would not be paid for their stories.’
The US’ National Press Club (NPC) is to allow ‘citizen journalists’ to become members through a partnership with cit-j site Helium.com.
The doors aren’t completely open: only the top contributors to the site – those that have earned a five-star rating for their body of work – will be able to apply for membership. However, reaching out to new kinds of media is a big gesture for an established, traditional journalism institution.
Helium’s ratings system will allow the NPC to effectively take on only the most ‘professional’ of the site’s citizen contributors. This could have a two-way impact, as Mark Ranalli, president and CEO of Helium, suggests in a release: “With their [the NPC’s] involvement, we believe we can elevate the stature, awareness and quality of citizen journalism.”