This is me
Alex Ragir is a journalist, filmmaker, incessant truth-seeker and co-founder of Storyhunter, the world’s largest marketplace and freelancer management system for the video industry. As Chief Community Officer, Alex built the Storyhunter network from zero to over 30,000 filmmakers, journalists and video creators in 192+ countries while forging partnerships with 200+ of the biggest names in media and advertising.
Before Storyhunter, Alex was a video journalist for CurrentTV and a foreign correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for Bloomberg News. He received the Overseas Press Club award for best reporting in Latin America in 2010 and the SABEW prize for best international investigative story -- after uncovering federal police evidence and court documents that proved how top executives of the world's largest banks help rich Brazilians evade taxes and launder money.
Always moving, he's based in New York, and sometimes LA. When not hosting a Storyhunter ScreenUp with the Storyhunter community, Alex enjoys being in nature, DJing, traveling and mimicking people’s accents. He's also the host of an interview show called The Rough Cut with Alex Ragir, featured on Entrepreneur.com, where he gives viewers an inside look into the minds in the leaders in digital video, media and marketing.
Storyhunter Sharing Economy Storytelling
Hosting Entrepreneurship Future of Media Community Building Digital Video Market-Networks Entrepreneurship JournalismS
From Journalist to founder of Storyhunter
While working as a foreign correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, I saw how there were so many stories left untold because media companies and brands didn't have an easy way to find, hire and pay local filmmakers, journalists and production companies. Not only did the world miss out on some of the most important stories, a lot of journalists and filmmakers stopped pursuing their passion because they couldn't find enough jobs doing the work they loved.
I remember on one particular story for Bloomberg TV, I tried to convince my bosses to hire a local documentary filmmaker to produce a piece from the Vidigal favela, a hillside slum controlled by drug dealers and perched between some of the most expensive real estate in Latin America. I soon realized it would be impossible to hire a local documentary filmmaker who knows the story best, and in this case knows the security precautions better than anyone. Apparently there was a policy that we needed to either send a full crew from New York, or hire a production services company within their list of approved Brazilian vendors. We ended up hiring a crew of 3 with a gigantic TV camera and a large van, to carry all the people and equipment.
I remember shaking my head as we struggled to drive the van up the narrow, dirt roads to the top of the hill, drawing attention from all the favela residences, so everyone knew a "news crew" was in the neighborhood. It made no sense. A small team with better knowledge of the story would have told the story from a more accurate, authentic perspective. And it would have cost about 20 times less.
Meanwhile, my co-founder, Jaron Gilinsky, was a freelance video journalist in the Middle East for The New York Times, TIME magazine and the few other outlets. I remember talking to him over Skype after he returned home from covering the Arab Spring in Cairo. I was like, "You were in the middle of a revolution! That's the biggest story in the world right now! Why did you leave??? ". The reason: there was no platform to meet new clients and let them know he was available. While leaving the airport in Cairo, a bunch of big TV news crews were arriving in Cairo from the US and Europe to cover the story (when he could have produced 5 stories and finished them by the time they arrived, for the price of the extra baggage fees just for their equipment-- let alone their hotel, salaries and airfare!) It made no sense.
The model for international video production and newsgathering was broken. So we both quit our jobs, moved to Brooklyn, New York, and started Storyhunter. Our mission was to empower local storytellers around the world by building an online marketplace for freelancers to build their portfolio, verify their work experience, get paid on time and connect directly with clients based on their location, expertise and first-hand reviews. It's also a place to pitch story ideas and work with multiple clients while getting paid through one simple system.
By automating the administrative tasks for clients, we allowed them to commission more stories with more filmmakers, and spend more time on the content. With the freelancers spending less time tracking down payments, finding new clients or dealing with paperwork, they can produce more stories and find more clients to tell stories otherwise untold.
Almost 8 years later, we are 30,000+ members in 192 countries, with over 200+ of the world's largest news organizations, advertising agencies and Fortune 500 brands using us on a daily basis. Just last year alone, we sent payments to over 180 countries. I'm proud to say our platform now sources videos stories for the biggest social media accounts in the world, generating more views and comments on original video stories than any other company on the planet.
Talented filmmakers are advancing their careers, making their livelihood and building their video production businesses of the future. I've heard countless stories from Storyhunter freelancers who considered leaving the industry, until they joined Storyhunter and realized following their passion may actually be possible.
Those brave freelancers and editors who took a chance on changing the status quo and trusting Storyhunter are the people I credit most with our success. It's easier to not change how a company operates and collect your paycheck than figure out a new way of doing things, and risk ruffling feathers and skepticism from the old guard. But these editors, producers and freelancers saw something that made sense and began optimizing their workflow for this new model, allowing it to succeed.
They not only inspire me to get up every morning and keep building Storyhunter, they also inspire their own communities to follow their passion and tell these important stories. With more of these stories told by more people practicing their craft every day, I think, together, we're improving the quality of the information in the world and it gives me hope for the future.
Find me on social media, watch my show, listen to the podcast, or leave a note below!
Lets keep building this thing together!