The American journalist, James Foley, reported for the Boston-based GlobalPost, an online network of freelance journalists, before he was kidnapped in 2012 and ultimately murdered by terrorists earlier this month. Last summer (2013), CCC’s Chris Kenneally interviewed Phil Balboni, president, CEO, and founder of GlobalPost, about the start-up’s efforts to prove that professional journalism does indeed have a place in a digital, mobile world.
“We created our entire operation to be highly efficient, to produce high-quality content at the lowest possible cost,” Balboni said. “While we spend millions of dollars, it’s a modest amount of cost compared to the scale of what we’re doing, and it gives us a greater opportunity to be financially successful. This is not something that legacy media is able to do.”
At its offices overlooking Boston Harbor, Globalpost editors and reporters are giving many around the world reason to believe in the future of news. The online-only news site has quickly earned a reputation for international reporting, filling gaps in US news coverage left where the old guard has retreated. GlobalPost correspondents file from far-flung corners with reports on politics, business, culture and conflict.
A year ago, GlobalPost announced a content syndication partnership with NBC News that weds the start-up’s award-winning news and features with the media giant’s own on-air and online coverage. Other GlobalPost news partners include PBS-TV and CBS.
“We are making our correspondents available to them 24/7 to help with their coverage. We’re able to help them be sure that when something happens, there’s somebody that they can trust that’s close by,” Balboni explains. “It gives them a trusted partner whose focus is purely international to augment what they’re able to do themselves.”
As news organizations cut back on full-time staff, freelancers fill the gap and particularly when reporting from conflict zones like Syria, they do so with little or no protection and at great personal risk. Apart from the horror of it, James Foley’s death reminds us that the title of “stringer” is a badge of honor.