News Corp will use Storyful for citizen journalism… and cat videos

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When Rupert Murdoch split his vast media empire in two earlier this year, the question was whether his beloved newspapers would be able to survive without the support of his booming film studios and television stations. But it’s increasingly clear that the future of News Corp, the spun-off publishing company, is not in print but video.

News Corp just bought the Dublin-based news agency Storyful for about $25 million. Storyful describes itself as a “new kind of newswire.” It unearths, verifies, and distributes user generated video content to paying newsrooms. When western journalists were locked out of Syria earlier this year and reports swirled about possible chemical weapons attacks, the service was particularly helpful. Storyful was able to quickly unearth videos relating to the incidents and verify whether they were legitimate.

News Corp’s senior vice president of strategy, Raju Narisetti, tells Quartz that among the biggest opportunities for Storyful will be expanding the service to other languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Hindi. He also said Storyful’s services could be sold to brands and marketers, not just newsrooms.

“I’m just using this as an example, but the ability to piggyback on a really cute cat video that takes off, is difficult for a brand, they don’t know who manages the rights,” Narisetti said. Bundling that user generated content with advertising and branded content could be a significant business opportunity, he said.

There is also a fascinating strategic element to the purchase because Storyful’s existing customers include the New York Times, bitter rival of the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal. But Narisetti doesn’t think it will be an issue because Storyful will remain a standalone company.