Even if a journalist manages to track down an expert in the relevant field of knowledge, it is not guaranteed that this individual will be at ease as an interviewee on TV or radio. New Canadian start-up, mediaspotme.com – launched just over a month ago, on 11 March 2013 – provides a much-needed solution to this common problem, which continues to compromise the quality of journalists’ efforts to write in an informed manner on specific areas (often niche topics such as robotics, which is the example provided by the website’s explanatory video). Media Spot Me makes expert research readily accessible to journalists, offering a diversity of points of view on a wealth of disciplines.
The relationships established by Media Spot Me are far from one-way. Whilst the specialist brings a “fresh voice” and a plethora of knowledge to the journalist’s piece, they too profit from this collaboration with the media – the site points out that “media exposure helps [the expert] to be seen as a leader in [their] field,” hereby winning them added credibility in the wider world. Media Spot Me helps the journalist to “[find] the person with the right expertise” and to profit from this expertise, whilst the expert gains visibility and may get job offers off the back of their interview with the journalist.
The website boasts a number of high profile news agencies and newspapers as clients, such as Reuters, CBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail. They offer a free 14 day trial, then charge 29 dollars (CAD) per month, or 290 dollars per year, whilst also offering a special “Newsroom” service (price on request).
Co-founder, Stavros Rougas, was inspired to launch the site as a result of his own personal experiences working as a journalist. “Whilst working as a TV producer on The Agenda with Steve Paikin I struggled to find people with the right expertise to interview.” Rougas continues, in an article for the Canadian Media Guild: “I did find online services that looked promising to help me find guests, but in the end none of them got to the heart of what I needed as a journalist.” His site provides a long-awaited solution to this dilemma, one suffered by countless journalists seeking specialist evidence from experts. He declares: “The net is the cataclysmic force of our times and it’s still in its infancy. I want to use it to help knowledgeable people find a voice, something that drew me to journalism.”
Within the space of just a couple of weeks, the site had already amassed 7,000 university professors across Canada keen to share their expertise with journalists, and around 60 journalist subscribers. The selection of experts is rigorous – they go through a background check to ensure their suitability before they are allowed to become participants. Rougas referred to his site as “the start of what we hope will be a path to support quality journalism.” If the site continues to acquire expert participants in such a rapid fashion, it promises to live up to these expectations. As French news website Horizons Médiatiques points out (article in French), even if Media Spot Me doesn’t exactly revolutionise the journalistic profession as we know it, it will at the very least provide a worthy contribution to what Rougas refers to as “quality journalism” – journalism that is well-informed, and therefore appreciated and respected by the reader.