Hot topics get the personal touch on NowPublic

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

"Tell me something new about something important to me from someone who was there."

This, says Leonard Brody, is the essence of what they do at NowPublic, one of the pioneers of citizen generated news. It is fast becoming one of the largest news agencies in the world with 130000 contributors in 140 countries and more than 4000 cities.

Brody is a 36-year-old Canadian entrepreneur, venture capitalist and best-selling author. He is the co-founder and chief executive of NowPublic which he established together with Michael Myers and Michael Tippett in 2005.

"The concept of using ordinary citizens to report on breaking news around the world is the future of news gathering," he says of the business which has upwards of a million visitors each month to its website,

NowPublic works in a similar way as agencies like Reuters and Associated Press, one of NowPublic's partners. These agencies gather news stories from around the world and disseminate them to other media.

The difference with the way NowPublic works is that it does not have a newsroom of journalists, photographers and editors but rather makes use of community members who are there whenever a story breaks, acting as the window into the public view.

When the bridge in Minnesota (USA) collapsed earlier this month and when a cyclone hit Oman in June, members of the public were there covering the stories for NowPublic.

Brody says: "We are not there to replace journalism and traditional media, but we are there as a tool for journalists and media. The majority of our contributors are not even interested in being journalists; they are motivated by a sense of duty to share news as it happens."

He has been in the country meeting with various media companies in order to form partnerships. Africa has more than 1000 contributors that submit stories to NowPublic.

Brody and his partners are confident that NowPublic will become one of the biggest news agencies in the world within the next three years.