Eyewitness accounts and information shared via social media are shaping a new breed of newsgathering services.

These digital platforms combine the best of freelance journalism with non–professional user–generated content according to representatives from one, Newzulu, and are striking deals around the world to ensure contributors get paid.

Speaking at the London College of Communication, Newzulu editor Henna Butt said the company “provides validated instant coverage of global events as they unfold,” offering “a new way of linking publishers and the public”.

She said: “What we’re trying to do as an agency is to harness all that content people are creating and also work with our own community to get them to capture [news] as well.”

Founded in 2007 as Citizenside in partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), Newzulu has grown into a community of over 150,000 professional and citizen journalists in over 150 countries, providing content to over 7,000 media organisations.

Butt stressed the importance of eyewitness coverage, using as examples the TransAsia crash in Taiwan and Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris: “Footage captured by eyewitnesses has become commonplace in news, and this trend will continue to grow.”

Once you register with Newzulu, you can submit your story that’s instantly received and gets thoroughly checked by the team: “We validate it, check facts, make sure it’s authentic and then share it with agencies that we’re partnered with,” Butt explained.

Verification of news is, she insisted, at the core of Newzulu’s ethos. Once you register, your location is logged, helping validation. A contributor is also asked basic information about the upload: where and when it happened, who was involved and why it’s newsworthy.

While Newzulu encourages citizen journalists to submit their stories, Butt and colleague Gabriela Laborde stressed the significance of the journalistic and social media skills of contributors.

Newzulu is currently working on developing an app that will enable users to stream live news from user–generated channels.

Featured image – Flickr: Dennis Skley