There’s a little office in DUMBO where a couple of people are trying to change the face of video reporting. They say things like “pro-sourcing,” “best practices,” and “local video journalism.” They have have a manifesto. They call themselves Storyhunter.
Launched in May 2012, Storyhunter offers a platform that allows a stable of professional video journalists to pitch any subject-matter they’re most interested in and Storyhunter will find the right venue for the story. The company itself traditionally operates as a sort of middleman, ensuring that talented and proven journalists get to tell the stories they care about instead of being told which stories to tell. But before all that happens, Storyhunter vets every single one of its contributors through a rigorous application process.
Co-founder Alex Ragir says, “We want to be the place where talented video journalists have the space to tell the stories they want.” And since the company’s manifesto specifically addresses recent changes to this model brought on by things like cellphone journalism and the prevalence of low-quality YouTube videos on broadcast television, he envisions the company as an easy way for “professional video journalists get their content to news sources.”
The company’s CEO and other co-founder Jaron Gilinsky describes it a different way. He says, “Our platform harnesses the cost-effectiveness and global access of citizen journalism and integrates it with the best practices of professional journalism,” a model they call “pro-sourcing.” Gilinsky continues, “Pro-sourcing means that you get the context and credibility that news viewers are looking for, as well as the authenticity and originality of crowdsourcing.”
It’s obviously working, at least considering that Storyhunter represents over 1,500 of the world’s top video journalists and has produced more than 100 documentary-style news features in 28 countries for publications like the Miami Herald, The Economist, MSN, and Yahoo. In fact, Ragir revealed the latter recently “renewed their contract with us; we’ll continue to produce for them in Latin America.”
Ragir sees the extended deal as a sign that Storyhunter is filling a void. In terms of finding the right people and the right content, he’s “realized the editorial process is very important.” It’s essential that both creators and publishers of a documentary want the same thing. Since “our system is sort of like a video production studio,” the burden of finding interesting stories is no longer with the publishers — video journalists are free to tell interesting stories, and Storyhunter guarantee that the journalists know what they’re doing and ensures publishers will be pleased with the final product.
But since a lot of these locally sourced and excellent videos are made in a locale other than DUMBO, Storyhunter regularly holds screening events it calls ScreenUp. They’re open to everyone, start with networking, climax with a documentary screening, and end with questions with the film’s creator (usually over Skype, Google Hangouts, or other web chatting services). Ragir explains, “We have online communities, so this is a way of connecting face-to-face as well.”
But that’s really what Storyhunter’s all about: In this world of stories, Storyhunter just wants to connect them with the people who can tell them best.