Greater audience involvement and free, online tools – this is all US-based newspaper publisher, Journal Register, claims it will need for the future.
The publisher hopes to revitalise the news gathering process by using only free tools available to anyone online; to edit, create, publish and distribute their news content.
The latest stage of the transformation, called the ‘Ben Franklin Project’, began on Independence Day, when all 18 of Journal Register’s daily publications, both online and in print, became open-source.
Writing on the project’s blog, Jon Cooper, vice-president of content, says the key was reinforcing the importance of user-driven projects.
The difference between how these stories are usually written and how they were written for today is the process. In many cases the stories reported as part of the BFP began with the audience. The people who are usually last in line were moved to the front of the process. Rather than just being able to read the finished product, the audience – through town hall meetings, social networking sites, direct requests via email and in person and more – was asked to help determine what the editorial staffs should cover.
This took the in-company collaboration to where it needs to be – collaboration between the audience and our organizations. To truly serve the communities in which we live and work we must be part of those communities. We must be connected to those communities. We must listen to those communities. And, we must be help accountable by those communities.
Tools already being used by the company include Google Docs, Flickr and WordPress, but the list is quickly growing.