Rachel Sterne, 25
New York, N.Y.
An internship at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in 2005 convinced Sterne that there was a huge gap in the West's international news coverage and awareness in the West of what was actually happening on the ground. "I thought there must be a better way for people to share stories, create emotional engagements about the world, as well as break the barriers of censorship and media bias," she says. Her answer: democratize news publishing.
In 2007, with seed money pulled from savings and family, Sterne launched Ground Report, a Web site that enables anyone to publish news and opinion stories, as well as streaming video reports. Ad revenue and partnership fees cover operations costs and pay its 4,000 global contributors (their fees are based on story traffic; they can earn anywhere from a few cents to $250 per story). A group of 30 volunteer editors help shape about 75 to 100 stories a day, including stories on Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic and exclusive live video of Tibetan protests in Tiananmen Square during the Beijing Olympics. "We are not trying to replace the mainstream media," she says, "but complement it with a slightly different perspective." The company earned $75,000 in revenue last year and Sterne estimates it will bring in $225,000 in 2009.