A scientist turned entrepreneur, Tamer Morsy, CST ’12, is leading the charge to save the newspaper industry.
He held research assistantships in nuclear medicine and cognitive neuroscience labs as a student and originally planned for a career that straddled medicine and technology.
“That’s the space where the most change can be made even in terms of benefiting our society,” he said. “That’s where the development of vaccines, for example, like the one we need now, is going to happen.”
App, app and away
But as he watched the 2016 presidential election unfold, Morsy—who spent his early years living under a dictatorship in Egypt—realized misinformation was a major problem in the U.S. So he decided to take a detour.
Now, he’s leading the charge to save print media with his software application, Spotlight: a news aggregator built on machine learning that distributes only verified content from trusted sources.
“A lot of people talk about the advances in computer science and artificial intelligence, but the newspaper hasn’t really changed in over 100 years and it’s been in decline for 30 of those,” Morsy said. “I don’t think we should live in a society where people aren’t held accountable for what they do … or in one where people don’t have access to quality journalism because it’s behind a paywall.
“I just got to thinking one day—there’s got to be a better way.”
With Spotlight, readers can access their favorite local and college newspapers and curate their news feed according to their personal interests. Morsy recently signed a deal with Tribune Publishing, bringing the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times into the fold.
Ready for takeoff
Morsy believes his entrepreneurial drive was sparked at Temple, where Associate Professor Cynthia Gooch let him use her office to dig deep into cognitive neuroscience research.
“This laid the groundwork for my being an entrepreneur because it gave me an opportunity to recognize the problems in my research and then try to solve them,” he says. “And problem-solving is one of the pillars of entrepreneurship.”
Another professor, Steven Fleming, also helped shape him by pointing out some of his shortcomings: specifically how he needed to be more focused and to improve his study skills.
“It kind of fueled my fire,” Morsy said. “At first, I felt like I was Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity team in high school, but that motivated him, and I tried to keep that in mind.”
Now he makes self-analysis part of his daily routine. He compares running a company to running a science experiment. “If you make just one tiny error in a lab, it can ruin your results,” he says. “And if you make a mistake in business, your company will fail.”
Morsy remains focused on perfecting his business model and making an impact through supporting digital media. But in the future, he said, a return to the medical arena is not off the table.
—By Sujeiry Gonzalez and Edirin Oputu