Non-profits, small businesses, citizen reporters and startups have an interest in engaging the news industry, according to Valencio Cardoso, but he worries that the task of reaching out to news rooms can be daunting for individuals who already have a lot on their plate.
The idea behind PressPass is to create an open directory of journalists–a project that has been attempted before, though Cardoso hopes the database’s emphasis on Twitter will encourage a casual rapport better than previous attempts. He also hopes Press Pass will become valuable to the press, as a source of valuable pitches.
“To me, adding value to the news industry means helping local news organizations receive a steady stream of original and relevant content from the community they serve,” Cardoso wrote in an email to Tech.li. “Our goal is to become a supplier of original newsworthy information to journalists and media outlets from across the globe. In trying to achieve that, I hope that we will have a significantly positive impact on the news industry.”
The site was initially populated by scraping Twitter lists, a practice that has the potential to rub some included individuals the wrong way. But anybody can opt out, Cardoso says, and to date nobody listed on the site has requested to be removed.
There is also a certain weirdness in the idea of reaching out directly to Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow, both featured prominently on the Press Pass home page, with an original story pitch–but to be fair, that’s an asymmetry that existed in social media long before Press Pass.
“Right now PressPass is just an aggregated directory, however as we start seeing more engagement, we’re going to allow journalists to sign up, edit their profile info, tell people which is the best channel to reach out to them, and also what kind of stories they’re interested in covering,” he wrote.
They’re also trying to discourage users from using the database to spam many journalists with the same content, by keeping contact information several layers deep within the site. If spam-like behavior becomes a problem, he says, they have some plans to curtail it.
Future plans for the site include launching “Top 100” lists by beat and region, adding journalists from new regions, hub pages for submission interest groups, and opening an API for developers who want to build products around the database. The team also plans to implement a signup option for journalists who want to edit their profile and contact information.