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How Rachel Haot Revolutionized Citizen Journalism

Dissatisfaction often drives success, and when Rachel Haot set out to revolutionize news in 2006, she helped to ignite a movement that is still growing today.

In 2005, an internship at the United Nations revealed to Haot a rift between how important events play out around the world and their eventual coverage by Western news agencies. After working on eye-opening reports on Darfur and Sudan for the State Department, Haot returned to the U.S. to find the media more concerned with Nintendo’s new Wii game console than world events.

She knew there had to be a better way to get real news to people, so rather than sit idly by, she decided to turn news on its head and make everyday citizens the reporters. Scraping together startup cash from friends and family, Haot founded GroundReport, a citizen journalism site dedicated to unfiltered reporting from anyone, anywhere.

Stories on GroundReport are published day and night by thousands of citizen journalists who self-police the open news platform, edit their peers and verify information. Articles are covered by Creative Commons licenses, meaning that they can be shared with much more freedom than news falling under a traditional copyright. As one of the first voices in citizen journalism, Haot’s website was, and still is, a leader in news written by the people, for the people.

GroundReport added fuel to a fire that is still burning, and citizen journalism has spread into traditional news media as well, like CNN’s iReport. Haot served as GroundReport’s CEO for four years before leaving in 2010 to work for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As chief digital officer and deputy secretary of technology for New York state, she’s applying the principles of citizen journalism to New York’s digital infrastructure,improving city services based on the input of its citizens.

 E*TRADE and GroundReport are separate and unaffiliated companies and this article does not represent a recommendation by E*TRADE to buy any specific security.