NowPublic, citizen journalism site, expands with $10.6M

NowPublic, the citizen journalism site that lets individuals take pictures and post articles about news they see going on around them, has raised $10.6 million in a first round of capital.

NowPublic, based in Vancouver, says it now has 118,000 contributing journalists, more than the 50,000 or so journalists at a competing site, OhmyNews. Once NowPublic contributors submit their news, NowPublic puts it on its own Web site, but also offers it up to news organizations, such as Associated Press, which can select the reports, photos or videos they want. These organizations may choose to take content only from top-rated journalists, and from those attending events that they couldn’t otherwise get to. They pay a fee to get this content. We last wrote about NowPublic when it raised $1.4 million in angel funding.

Chief executive Leonard Brody said it was the largest first round funding for any citizen journalist site. OhmyNews, a site based in Korea but which is now international, raised $11 million in a second round of financing. OhmyNews is somewhat different, however, in that it hires journalists and pays them based on advertising revenue it gets to its site. Another competitor is AssociatedContent, which focuses less on breaking news. For example, on Friday, that site’s lead story was a feature on the new Simpsons movie — something that could have been published anytime over the past week. NowPublic’s lead story, by contrast, was of the two helicopters that collided in Phoenix, something that as breaking at the time.

This comes at a time when some other related community sites, such as Backfence, haven’t done too well. NowPublic is does not rely on any one community.

The funding was led by Rho Ventures and Rho Canada. The round also included two other venture firms, Brightspark and the Working Opportunity Fund, both of which participated as seed investors.

Brody said it has expanded its relationship with AP so that it now delivers information to AP bureaus across the U.S.

Brody pledged that he will build the largest news agency in the world over the next 24 months, by reach. It has contributors in over 140 countries and 3,600 cities.