Aztecs guide journalists to career success

by Alicia Chavez

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Two San Diego State alumni have mastered the art of problem solving. Anuj Garg and Greg Verioti were in the 18th class to graduate in the Executive Masters of Business Administration program offered at SDSU. The two graduated in 2009 with MBA degrees.

Upon graduation, the pair teamed up to start a business of their own. Their idea to develop a solution for the changing landscape of journalism in the 21st century was steered in the direction of an online innovation. From that, Nuzapp was born.

Nuzapp is a website recently created to help connect freelance and professional journalists with publishing companies interested in selling and buying unpublished content.

The website serves as a middle man. Journalists put stories on the website, where media organizations can filter through and buy content they are most interested in, or vice versa—publishers can post writing opportunities for freelance journalists.

“We are the conjugate for the journalist and the publication,” Verioti said. “We create all the tools and services to make it easy and cost effective for the journalists and publications to connect and exchange content.”

At the end of the day, both sides of the business are winning. Journalists are exposed to a larger range of publishers they wouldn’t normally have the access to, and publishing companies are reducing costs by only paying for content they need.

“We created a platform where journalists can come in and sell their content and establish a relationship with companies,” Verioti said.

“On the other hand, the companies can look to reduce the cost and utilize the fee of coverage to have a great choice of content and more flexibility,” Garg said.

Journalists have the freedom to write what they want and own the rights to their work. They are also able to name the price for their own articles and barter with the cost once publishers show interest.

“For journalists themselves, they have full 100 percent control over the terms of selling their content, whether that is price or ownership,” Verioti said.

Nuzapp allows publishers to message journalists through the website, introducing a new type of business where little face-to-face interaction is necessary. The website is the platform that brings the journalist and the publisher together without conducting business under the table.

The idea started when Garg and Verioti were three months away from graduating. Both were interested in starting their own businesses, but the first step was finding an industry or profession that was suffering and needed a solution to a big problem.

In recent years, with the convergence of media and journalists being asked to be a “one-man band,” more and more writers are turning to freelance jobs. As a result, big company names are turning to the freelance community to produce yearly writing jobs. These companies may not have the budget to hire a full-time writer, but are willing to pay 10 times more for a single project once or twice a year.

Nuzapp gives big companies the ability to advertise for freelance jobs through the website. Once a company is satisfied with particular pieces of work, it can essentially endorse writers and rate them on the profile they have created with the website. It’s also a way journalists can establish free credibility.

SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies Professor Amy Schmitz Weiss is an expert in the digital age of journalism and believes the website is an example of how to succeed in the 21st century.

“It is a unique idea of taking the two groups and finding an intermediary that can help with the brokering of content,” Schmitz Weiss said.

According to Schmitz Weiss, half the battle will be establishing a relationship with these publishing companies before completely launching the website. The other half is getting the website’s name out there.

For now, the website remains in beta mode and is reaching out to the San Diego community for feedback for both sides of the business.

“As our awareness increases, we are really looking forward to the feedback and understanding if we are correctly designing the website to meet the real problems we see, or if we need to make the changes,” Verioti said.

Not to be confused with the website name, an app is in place for the future of Nuzapp, but for now the team is focusing on one media platform at a time.

For students interested starting their own business, Garg and Verioti offer some SDSU-inspired advice.

“Solve a real problem for an area of business you want to go into. Know your customers well; know exactly what they need,” Garg said. “If you have a website or product people need, people will come.”

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