Knight Foundation to Fund Plug-and-Play Version of EveryBlock

Pat Thornton talks with Gary Kebbel about a possible future for EveryBlock’s open-sourced code: “The Knight Foundation is working with advisers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to form a team to further development of EveryBlock and make it much easier for news organizations to set up the software on their sites, Kebbel said. Knight will work with several news organizations around the country to install EveryBlock for them. Once this additional development is completed, the new code will be released.”

Knight Foundation to Fund Plug-and-Play Version of EveryBlock

Catch up or get left behind

I’ve been a nomad for a few days in the middle of a short-by-my-standards 300+ mile move from the suburbs of Rochester, NY to the suburbs of Washington D.C. and boy are my legs tired.

But I’m catching up on my reading, and found a few things to share with you on the theme of catching up…

VIDEO: Investing in Your Staff
CoPress on Vimeo | September 2, 2009
The latest excellent video presentation from CoPress, making a case for innovation in your news organization.

2010 Knight News Challenge is now open for business
“Got a great idea for transforming the future of news? The 2010 Knight News Challenge is now accepting applications, through October 15th!”

The future of news in 4 dimensions: Charting new kinds of news orgs
Nieman Journalism Lab | September 1, 2009
C.W. Anderson builds the sort of continuum/quadrant chart that makes the mass communications scholar in me go all smiley.

brianboyer: If you’re a Tribune reader, this’ll make it nicer. RT @ryanmark: Update to userstyle
Twitter | September 2, 2009
If you understand what these two Chicago Tribune developers are up to here (providing savvy online readers with an incrementally improved stylesheet for the recent redesign long before the changes get built into the live site’s code), then you’ll understand why I think it’s pretty cool of them.

Five concrete steps to improving the news | September 1, 2009
Matt Thompson follows up his post about what goes missing from most news stories with a few suggestions for how to roll out a contextual approach to a news story. I like #4, which includes this idea: “Keep a public list of the most important things you don’t know about your topic.”

New report: How to build a user community online
Mark Briggs of Journalism 2.0 and his team at Serra Media put together this great report on community management.

Young Families are the Real Early Adopters
Mash this market research up with the right Pew report, and you’ll have a good idea of how to deliver the news to an audience that is the most likely to want it.

mattwaite: Today, we launched Home Team, a local high school sports site: And I now I need to sleep for a month.
Twitter | September 2, 2009
Matt and company at the St. Petersburg Times demonstrating what a solid Web framework and some experience can help you get done in a short span of time. More details in the tweets that followed this one.

Lifestreaming: Newspaper Uses Posterous to Solicit and Publish Reader Photos
The Steve Rubel Lifestream | August 30, 2009
Did you spot the Austin American-Statesman using Posterous to collect reader photos last week?

So, are you caught up?

If Posterous, Django, market research, community management, contextual news, CSS, the Knight News Challenge, and CoPress are all alien objects to you, pick any one and get up to speed.

Catch up or get left behind.

Announcing: ReportingOn 2.0 is live

ReportingOn 2.0 is live and ready for your questions. And answers.

It’s still the backchannel for your beat, but it’s an absolute re-imagining of the network.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping score, ReportingOn is a project funded by the Knight News Challenge, and it’s a place for journalists of all stripes to find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story, or source.

ReportingOn 2.0 on the morning of launch, July 2, 2009.

(You can catch up with our progress reports from year one and related concepts at the PBS Idea Lab blog.)

The first time out, I built it to be quite Twitter-esque in the hopes that journalists would use it like Twitter, asking questions of their followers and sharing ideas about stories they were working on.

That didn’t happen organically, or if it was going to, it was going to take years. So, with the help of a professional development and design team, we’ve rebuilt the site from the ground up, framed around the act of asking and answering questions.

There’s no 140-character limit, but what you will find are lots of basic features that make sense in this sort of social network.

You can ‘watch’ users, beats, or a particular question, viewing everything in an activity feed that brings you the latest questions and answers from the journalists, topics, and particular issues you’re interested in.

I think you’ll like it.

And, as the grant year for ReportingOn comes to a close, we’re also making the source code for ReportingOn available here under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3. You can use that to build your own backchannel question and answer tool for the journalists in your news organization, or even let your readers ask and answer questions.

I want to repeat that and extend it a bit…

Here are four things that could happen next:

  1. itself is a stunning success, with thousands of journalists asking and answering great questions every day, finding peers and mentors, improving local news by adding context and insight gleaned from others working similar angles on stories in far-flung locales.
  2. A media company uses ReportingOn’s open-sourced codebase to build their own internal backchannel, probably on an intranet, or requiring authentication so they can limit it to members of their own organization.
  3. A single news organization uses ReportingOn to do the same thing — build an internal backchannel.
  4. A single news organization uses ReportingOn’s open-sourced codebase to build a public tool that allows readers, sources, and reporters to ask and answer questions in a sort of open forum.

What else could you do with ReportingOn? Give it a shot, and let us know.

What’s next for 2.01 and beyond? We’ll let the dust settle over the next few days and figure out which additional features we want to build first, then we’ll take a look at our budget and consider the options. Feel free to check out to get an idea of where we might go next, and add your own ideas, too!

Thanks to everyone who helped get this launch out the door on time and on budget, especially the Lion Burger development and design team, all the friends and colleagues who gave me their input over the last year, those of you that answered my last-minute call for beta testers, and the Knight Foundation staff for supporting the first year of ReportingOn.

So… Any questions?