This interview is with Morell Maison, founder of osargenews.com. Morell and the osargenews.com team caught our eye earlier this spring when they began converting scores of basic papers to Pro on a daily basis. We were intrigued and reached out to learn more. As of this interview, Morell has more than 109 papers fine-tuned and ready to deliver country specific news to the African Diaspora.

 

“This project really feels as though the mosaic of my life has been collected together, my interests and experiences, the people I have met and stories I have heard, my interest in society and history and the questions I ask myself when I go to sleep at night.” – Morell Maison, osargenews.com

 

Born in London of Guyanese parents, Morell Maison is a man of many passions and ideas. He is not afraid of experimenting, falling, and standing up again:

“I’ve had an extremely varied life with many ventures along the way, some of which have failed and some of which have succeeded – slightly more of the latter fortunately,” he says in an email. “Regardless of outcome though, each venture has been a real learning curve and character forming in its own way.”

The story behind Osargenew.com

Experience does not just shape us, it also trains the mind to see possibilities in everything. During an extended holiday, Morell and his partner Emma started discussing life and personal footprints. The conversation continued for several weeks and turned into brainstorming sessions.

The result? osargenews.com, an upcoming website that encapsulates the mosaic of Morell’s life and his desire to celebrate the humanity in all of us.

“Osarge, in conjunction with the Logo, means NKONSONKONSON, Chain Links – Unity Human Relations, translated as a meaning from the Maasai language: ‘We are linked together like a chain; we are linked in life; we are linked in death. Men who share a common blood relationship never break away from one another’, Morell says.

Osargenews objectives

The goal of the osargenews.com is to allow the numerous members of the African continent and Diaspora to connect on any device. The site will offer a wide array of features, including blogs, a forum, diaspora recruitment section, digital library, and budding film archive with diaspora-related documentaries and osargenews.com’s own commissioned web series. Ladies Talk International, the first one, will present one-hour conversations with women of the African Diaspora.

“This series is being written and produced by Angie Le Mar, Britain’s first African Caribbean queen of comedy, sitcoms, monologues, and osargenews.com’ brand ambassador,” he continues. “The cast for the London episode are currently being finalised and the series will roll out across other counties alongside our launches.”

However, the goal of this ambitious project does not stop there. Morell also wants to turn the site into a go-to platform for global news and event coverage in ‘near’ real-time, showcasing content being shared by people on the ground in any given country, at any given time.

The star attraction is an impressive interactive map of the world that welcomes visitors. With a click of a mouse on a region, and then a specific country site visitors arrive on a dedicated page that showcases historical facts, pictures, and an embedded Paper.li that updates every twelve hours with news, stories and content relevant to that country.

Osarge News demo

“The whole journey has been a very collaborative one, which is how I work best,” Morell says. “Initially I conceived the interactive map concept in Barbados and had a clear vision of being able to click into a country by means of a cursor on a map, the country lighting up as the cursor hovers over it, then with just one click being able to access the news and details relating to the country – history, images, videos, etc.”

Why Morell chose Paper.li

Morell looked at several platforms to power the news stream on the website, but Paper.li appeared as the only logical choice. Three things factored in his decision:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Great tech support
  • Customer-centric vision

“The Paper.li team has been amazing. Kelly Hungerford, head of customer experience, has listened to me ramble for hours when she has such a busy schedule; but I think she understood our concept and ambition from the start and has supported us throughout, getting the tech team right behind us too to advise and solve any issues along the way.”

“Morell-Junior, my son, created the papers to start with and our web developers integrated the paper embeds into our site, working with me to format them in such a way that we create our own paper identity,” he adds. “Emma has since been very instrumental in the sourcing of the news content, learning to work well with Paper.li’s system to hunt down, order and maximise the benefit from up to 25 sources for each paper.”

Osarge News quote 6

The launch

When osargenews.com launches, the site will feature more than 100 Paper.li papers — with well over 1,000 feed sources. Among the things that Morell believes will really appeal to readers, is video content. According to him, they should be a hit with Non-English speakers because they really bring stories to life.

Paper.li as a global news connector

The papers have already had an important impact on people, including the ones in Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Barbados, Guyana, Libya, and America. The reason? They often cover more ground than publications in those countries!

“Today I received thanks from a British Jamaican woman who is amazed she is getting news through osargenews.com on Jamaica, which is not readily available in Jamaica even when she is there,” Maison states. “She says she is receiving stories not covered by the usual media.”

“I have a Libyan gentleman who can’t wait for osargenews.com to go live, so his friends can also follow developments through the site. He is feeding info back to his family that he receives to his phone from the site, news that they are unaware of.”

What’s next

When asked about future projects around osargenews.com, Morell talks about growth in scope and audience with at least six upcoming ventures. For example, he would like to develop an online African and African-Diaspora centered marketplace. He is also working on a free online educational program that would offer additional products and services exclusive to the site.

However, for the time being, the founder is getting ready to celebrate the upcoming launch of the website. Everything will start on August 16, with a live event at the Tricycle Theatre in London, England. From then on, other events will take place until February 2015 in New York, South Africa, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Paris, Miami, and Barbados.

“The campaign hasn’t even begun and there’s a buzz already with everybody that subscribes to the papers or has tested the products being very impressed. If that’s an indication of the response the site will receive as we roll out globally then we have a winner on our hands. This, I feel, will be one of my successful ventures.”

Interested in learning more about how osargenews.com and Paper.li are connecting global communities together? Visit osargenews.com  and see for yourself!

Cendrine Marrouat
Paper.li Blog Staff Writer, Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born social media coach, curator, and author. She is the founder of Social Media Slant and the #smslantchat Twitter chat. Her latest e-book release, "The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It and Win", is a comprehensive guide focusing on the four pillars of audience building. Follow her on Google+.

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