News agency SWNS launches new syndication platform it claims will 'transform' speed of content sharing

Independent news agency SWNS has launched a new content syndication platform with funding from Google which it says will finally deliver real citizen journalism.

The news agency said the artificial intelligence-driven service was “revolutionary” and would “transform” the speed at which content could be submitted and distributed.

SWNS received a six-figure grant to develop the project as part of £2.8m in funding handed out to 17 UK news organisations by Google’s Digital News Initiative last year.

Once fully operation, the system, which is called SWNS.rocks and has been built by firm Omni Digital, will be able to make payments to contributors in under 24 hours, the agency claims.

A spokesperson said the service will be able to report content usage in “real time” as material is published, adding: “Nothing as quick, seamless and integrated exists in the current marketplace.”

They said: “It offers total transparency for professional and amateur photographers, freelancers, eyewitnesses, citizen journalists and corporate syndication partners.”

The system “links together copy, images, and video to create packaged news to fit the demands of modern publishers” and will enable “instant publishing” when connected to a CMS, the agency said.

Martin Winter, managing editor of SWNS said: “There has been much talk of citizen journalism but until now the reality has fallen short of the promises.

“Powered by the SWNS.rocks engine, a community of creators – supported by the huge editorial team at SWNS – can play a part in shaping the news and can be rewarded within minutes when their images, videos and words are used in the national and international media.

“The system will also bring huge benefits for publishers and we have received very enthusiastic response from publishers who have seen it in action.

“We can now deliver packaged content in a web-ready format which can be published with the click of a button.”

Jon Mills, picture editor at SWNS added: “The best news pictures come from many different sources, the future of news gathering is always going to be a mix of professional and non-professional creators, we’re confident that we’ve built a system that work for both.

“The digital news business demands that we deliver content at great speed. We’re grateful to Google for providing the funding so we can achieve this.

“It is really exciting to be able to bring the benefits of innovation to our many talented contributors and many we are yet to find.”

Sam Hearn, Managing Director of Omni Digital said: “Rarely does any company get the opportunity to innovate at this scale within an established industry like journalism – so we’ve really enjoyed the task SWNS set us.

“The system transmits content to news desks in a faster, more holistic manner than ever achieved before.

“Through creative use of cloud infrastructure, machine learning, and automation, our platform gives SWNS and its partners and clients unprecedented control over the use of their content in real-time and at a scale that meets the requirements of the online publishing market.

“We’re delighted to be a part of something which helps local news publishers, contributors and local news heroes find their voice in the national and online publishing space.”

SWNS began as a regional news agency in Bristol before expanding to acquire the Ross parry, News Team, Masons, Centre Press and National agencies across the UK.

It claims to put 100 original articles, 750 images and 10 video clips through its wire service each day.

The agency employs about 100 journalists and photographers and is headed by directors Andrew Young, Paul Walters and Martin Winter.

Picture: Adam Gray/SWNS

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