The Most Influential Women in Technology 2011 – Rachel Sterne

Chief Digital Officer, New York City

The Most Influential Women in Technology 2011 – Rachel Sterne

The unfiltered Internet is the fastest news medium on Earth, but it’s also a firehose known for producing more bilge than it does reliable scoops. Enter Rachel Sterne’s, a site meant to use the power of crowds to filter real-time Web news into a reliable record. The goal: the speed of the Web, combined with the reliability and curation of “old media.” It’s not perfect, and it’s not always pretty, but it’s fast. This is definitely not your grandfather’s journalism.

After witnessing the power of the Web first-hand during her work as a U.N. political reporter in the Sudan, Sterne founded GroundReport in 2006 with the mission to “democratize the media.” Since then, the site has quickly become one of the Web’s best real-time news portals, pushing the standards and efficacy of citizen journalism. Thousands of global contributors submit content to GroundReport’s editors everyday, and a community rating system determines which stories are featured most prominently on the site.

The quality control is working. Professional writers and journalism students make up the lion’s share of GroundReport’s contributor network, lending the site more credibility than Twitter or cable news’ citizen journalism initiatives. Sterne’s reporter network hasn’t just earned her breaking news cred–it also earned her the position of Chief Digital Officer in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

Meanwhile, GroundReport continues to set itself apart from the noise by fostering official partnerships with YouTube and Livestream to bring users live video coverage of events like political debates, discussion forums and, in 2008, coverage of the Olympics. News buffs can check out the work of Sterne’s team in real-time by following @groundreport on Twitter.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.