Foreign news startup Worldcrunch looks to expand its impact

Kickstarter project would take deep dives into global development issues

There’s been no shortage of hand-wringing, here and elsewhere, over the decline of foreign coverage in the digital age. With newsroom budgets on the wane, expensive foreign bureaus are often the first things to go. And yet there’s still a need and a desire for high-quality foreign coverage. What to do?

A few digital startups have attempted to meet this need. One of the best is Worldcrunch. Co-founded by a former Time reporter named Jeff Israely, Worldcrunch provides high-quality English language translations of foreign-language news articles. It’s a great site, and I use it often, but one complaint I have is that its coverage isn’t particularly focused. While Worldcrunch presents interesting articles on a variety of topics, it doesn’t regularly collect or curate those articles in a way that’d help readers go deeper on any one topic.

Until now. Worldcrunch is running a Kickstarter project for an initiative that’d deliver those deep dives the site has been missing. They’re calling it Worldcrunch Impact, and the idea is to curate a bunch of articles focused on a specific global development issue each month: urban planning, agriculture, education, and so on. Here’s Worldcrunch:

We want to open up a world of solutions to interested readers around the globe, to inspire and empower both concerned citizens and decision makers to address common problems in novel ways. We want to facilitate the spreading of ideas, by breaking down language barriers.

It’s a smart idea. If you want to read about, say, the future of agriculture in Italy, there’s a tremendous advantage to reading an Italian-language source rather than, say, The New York Times. Native sources can offer have the context and perspective that outsiders might miss or misunderstand. I know a couple people on the Worldcrunch staff, so maybe I’m biased, but I really do think this is a good, interesting project that deserves some attention. With so many news outlets trending toward provincialism, it’s always good to see an outlet that’s thoughtfully and enthusiastically turning its gaze to the wider world. The Kickstarter runs until July 3.

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , , ,