JE Review- Sweeble.com

Mais uma das minhas reviews para o Journalism Enterprise

Another one of my Journalism Enterprise reviews

Rating: ★★★☆☆

What do they say it is?

was born out of the bottom of a bottle of wine at the dog end of a bad day in the newsroom.

It was the end result of hundreds of people’s stories rejected because they didn’t quite fit editorial standards – because they were too small, too personal, too one-sided or a story we’d already done and didn’t fancy doing again.

The news we tell each other as individuals, the stories we want to share, are rarely the ones we see in our newspapers, or on our TVs or hear on our radios. It shouldn’t be like that on the web too. The web needs an open space for news where anyone can tell everyone what’s going on around them, in their own bit of the world.

[…] Sweeble is the future of news on the net. It’s a future that will be built by its users. You decide what is news, you rate the writers, you choose what stories you see when you log on. That first eureka moment of designing sweeble’s editor-free concept was the start, from that we’ve built this cleverer-than-it-looks platform to let you run the asylum. Enjoy.”

What do I say it is?

Sweeble is a UK based website, in which all content is generated by users. The main idea is to allow people to present their news stories in an editor free environment, without restraints on subject or approach. In fact, the goal is to provide a space for personal approaches to off-mainstream stories. It’s more of a personal/individual project rather than a corporate effort. Hard-core Citizen Journalism.

What’s great about it?

You can post a text, with or without pics, and/or video. The page structure is quite simple and they tell you all you need to know in their tips and FAQ’s, from how to post to a quick guide about how to write your story, which you don’t see often. This shows that who’s running the place knows the job and aspires to have quality content.

You can personalize your account, so you can have your preferred subjects on your Sweeble’s homepage, and the idea of an ad section is good to create a community, but that part doesn’t seem to have much activity yet. But what caught my eye was the stark simplicity of the website.

What could be better?

Video is a strong argument for Sweeble, but there are some limitations: you can upload it to Sweeble, but not place it from YouTube, for example. Since you have to upload it, your video must be up to 50mb, which may not suffice to hold a longer interview or a home edited report (not really a problem now, but as users get more evolved in their storytelling this may happen). One annoying thing is that you can’t send the stories to a friend by email, nor embed the videos someplace else, though I managed to get them with VodPod. This happens due to the simple programming of the website, which handles well most features, but needs to be reviewed to allow Sweeble to grow (it’s still beta, I know). Another feature that could come up in the future is (audio)slideshows, but this is just a suggestion.

The user homepage options also suffer from the simple programming: few choices and radio buttons won’t do in the future.

One thing that annoyed me is the amount of times they emphasize legal implications over content, and how systematically they shake off any sort of responsibility. I know they must protect the website from any sort of legal liability, but it sounds too defensive. One short, clear disclamer would do.

How is it going to make money?

Google AdSense is there, along with smaller ads, and more publicity may come if they target the right companies: audio and video gear retailers or companies, mobile phone manufacturers, all that work with the semi-pro fringe. The citizen journalist is an expanding market niche.

Should I pay it any attention?

For sure. Sweeble is a good model for citizen journalism, that needs more promoting and live outside their own website – this means that they must, for instance, find some sort of synergy with other independent news projects, and reach the public. And, why not, promote basic journalism courses among their users. The aim is free, personal, quality stories, and I believe that they can go further than their original inebriated born of frustration idea, and build a true citizen news website. It all depends on what sort of effort they are willing to apply to truly make a difference.

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Janeiro 2008

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