This start-up is the answer to FAKE news


Meet Yuliya Belyayeva. What does her company Peer offer the news industry?

How did Peer start?

Our origin story is quite simple. I started Peer, a marketplace that makes the news more inclusive by connecting the press and news sources through merit-based matchmaking when I saw just how unequal access to the media really is.

It’s a story as old as time. Those with the biggest PR budget and the strongest communications counsel are in a better position to get news coverage. Meanwhile, the odds are heavily stacked against women and minorities. Only 25% of sources quoted in the news are non-white, and male sources overshadow female sources in a ratio of 3:1. That leaves a lot of sources without a voice. 

News outlets, including NPR, The Atlantic, and Financial Times, have created internal initiatives to balance out the pool of sources in their coverage, but no PR software has really targeted this issue to create a scalable solution. 

Peer’s self-policing algorithm makes sure that anyone with a meaningful contribution can have a simple and fair way to be considered as a source for press opportunities. By improving how journalists and news sources connect, Peer changes the way the news is told. 

What is Peer?

Peer is an ally to both reporters and sources. For the first time, all qualified sources have an equal playing field when it comes to getting access to the press, regardless of PR budgets. This helps include more diversity and representation in news coverage. 

Peer’s tech also gives reporters a structured way to find relevant sources at scale since it handles source discovery, verification, and preliminary vetting. 

We are onboarding new sources and journalists every day, so we welcome all to apply to join Peer!

What brings you to the industry?

There is a lot of attention on media now, but I have followed this space for years. 

I have worked at Edelman, interacted with the press during Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and, most recently, was the Head of Marketing for an acquired fintech start-up. I have seen first-hand and sympathize with the challenges that reporters are tackling, and, simultaneously, wanted to bring more representation into the news. 

The news quite literally shapes our worldview, and, if we are only having one group of sources tell a narrative, that does not give us the full story. Having such a big gap in who is making up our news also paints a one-sided picture for younger generations. 

This is an urgent mission for Peer, and every new user on our platform—whether a journalist or news source— is one more person contributing to solving this issue.

As a female founder, what do you think about media startups?

There is no denying that the PR industry is broken and the media landscape is changing.

Reporters are under extreme pressure to write more stories on tighter deadlines while moderating conferences, having a presence on social media, and writing books. At the same time, the way that the audience gets their news is shifting. Some start-ups have targeted the medium and genre of the news in a really promising way.

The PR software for sources or journalists, however, has only provided Band-aid solutions, so there is still a lot of work to be done to automate and modernize the way the industry is run. The more female founders, the merrier. 

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