Scoop — A citizen journalist’s best friend

Amrith Srinivasan
Jun 1, 2018 · 5 min read

Introduction

Scoop is a free, lightweight app for telling a story by capturing photos, videoclips and text right from your phone, published straight to the app (without having to create a blog or build a website). If you are comfortable taking photos or sending messages, you can create a Scoop story!

What’s special about a story on Scoop? A Scoop story is…

  • Impactful: Scoop helps you tell the stories that aren’t being told
  • Open: Scoop stories are public and easy to discover: on Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps
  • Offline: No internet is required to create a story — all you need is a smartphone

The Challenge

There’s no shortage of sources to turn to if you want to get your fix of national news, and depending on the size of the town/city you live in, chances are there are a few stations at your disposal for local news. However, if your town is like mine, local news channels often talk about things going on quite a few miles from where you actually live.

Facebook and Twitter have dominated social media

Additionally, with users being prone to using sites such as Twitter or Facebook to express their opinions, specifically, people tend to tweet or live stream when news is breaking — like if they witness an accident, a fire, a fight, a police chase, or something else of a more urgent and distressing nature.

Meanwhile, if they’re trying to promote a local event — like a book signing, to use an example — it’s likely that they’ll post that to the business’s Facebook Page, where it can then be discovered through the Page’s fans and surfaced in Facebook’s Local app.

Defining the key pain points

With so many social networks where people share their little stories as citizen journalists sparking the right change in society, the larger scale impact that could be further delivered goes missing due to the sheer number of networks and a large amount of other content on the social networks.

Reporting local news to communities that don’t have adequate local news coverage — or had a local news outlet close shop. It’s little secret that many smaller news outlets are struggling and searching for financial viability. Very few organizations have the robust subscription cash streams of media giants like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. (In contrast to President Trump’s repeated statements about “the failing New York Times,” the publication reported in November 2017 that its digital subscription base continues to increase, to some 2.5 million subscribers.)

Lastly, shrinking media, is a national problem. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported by the Columbia Journalism Review, jobs in media have dropped dramatically, by 411,800 people in 2001 to 173,709 in 2016.

So we have two key pain points to solve during this challenge:

  1. Larger scale impact that could be further delivered goes missing due to the sheer number of networks and a large amount of other content on the social networks.
  2. Reporting local news to communities that don’t have adequate local news coverage.

Execution: Design

Scoop encourages local journalists and everyday folk to capture a video, take a snapshot and build a story around events wherever they happen. You can add/edit your story at any time so you are not limited to only a single time-frame but rather have a series of evolving stories.

As a solution to create an easy-to-use app experience while uploading stories, which looks good on every mobile device, I created a floating menu at the bottom of the screen for users to easily add stories.

This fixed positioned floating menu bar is always reachable with one hand either the user is right or left handed. In order to create a solution, which cannot be affected by rounded screen corners or overlapping Home screen indicators, I decided to go with a full width navigation instead centred button. I positioned this quick menu bar near the bottom of the screen, but not too close to the edges. This way it’s comfortable to reach and not affected by overlapping UI elements or rounded screen corners.

Main feed, Your stories & Reading module

After tapping on the floating menu button, the user gains full access to the the three ways to add stories i.e. photos, videos and texts.

To encourage engagement amongst users while uploading content, I introduce a new feature called ‘contributions’. Once a user creates their story, he/she will be prompted to publish the content as public or private. Under public stories, other users will have the chance to add their thoughts in the form of pictures, text or videos. This will be ideal for large scale events that cannot be physically covered by one person. It will also encourage users to be truthful with their content as other users are constantly curating the stories.

User flow to contribute content to public stories

Execution: Prototyping

During the prototyping process, my goal was to create an interaction, which is quick, short and responsive, while making sure that it’s feasible from a developer point of view as well.

Takeaways

This core concept makes application navigation to add stories easier with one hand even on larger mobile devices. It also encourages users to participate with one and other by contributing to their stories.

However, there are some trade-offs to this concept, like the always visible floating navigation button at the bottom of the screen (which can be built in a way that it’s only visible when the user starts to scroll upwards and disappears on downwards scroll).

Ultimately, the goal is to build a platform that enables total connection with these social networks while curating the right stories of change. Would something like this be good for gaining attention from governments and media to showcase, champion and take action to resolve problems? I believe so and would like to drive this change!

After all the practice of citizen journalism i.e. ordinary people gathering and reporting news, is actually older than having professional journalists who report the news happening around us.

If you have another idea how we could make the mobile experience better and easier to use, feel free to share it!

Thank you for reading! If you found this article useful let me know and I’ll write more in the future. :)

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