A year ago, UNC College alumnus Jonathan Tepper was working in the financial district when his friend Turi Munthe proposed an idea for a web-based news site that would distribute breaking stories and fresh images to media all over the world.
Tepper, a history and economics major who graduated with high honors from UNC in 1998, quit his job and joined Munthe in co-founding Demotix.com in January. This summer the London-based company made news itself for distributing coverage of the election protests direct from the streets in Iran, where mainstream western media were banned.
“The Iran coverage has been a major boost for Demotix,” Tepper told the Daily Tar Heel. “Now many major news organizations have written stories on us.”
One of Demotix’ 30 freelance photographers in Iran was arrested. He has since been released, and Demotix continues to distribute news from Iran and other hot spots, such as the Uyghur conflicts in China and refugees in Myanmar. The company’s motto is “news by you.”
“BBC, Reuters and other mainstream news platforms are turning to Demotix to get perspective from the ground, putting communication from the site’s freelance journalists and amateurs on a mass state,” said one report on CNBC during the Iran protests.
Demotix photos and stories have been in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, the Guardian, El Pais and 100 media outlets around the globe.
After graduating from UNC, Tepper studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he met Munthe.
The name Demotix comes from Demotic, the form of writing used and most easily understood by the “man in the street” in Alexandria, circa 200 B.C., according to the company’s web information. It means “of the people.”
“Our aim is to open up journalism to the people in the modern age, just as the demotic script opened up writing in ancient Egypt,” the Demotix web page states.
Learn more about Demotix.