Nieman Foundation at Harvard
America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 25, 2009, 7 a.m.

Knight News Challenge: A tool to push old stories to new media

Planning his Knight News Challenge entry, Joe Boydston followed his own advice: think small. He won a modest $10,000 to develop a desktop application that will allow web-challenged journalists to drag text files into a folder and have them automatically published online. “Someone at the conference asked me if I regretted not requesting more money,” he wrote in an e-mail exchange. “My answer was ‘Why would I? It doesn’t cost that much.'”

During the conference, though, Boydston, vice president of technology and new media at McNaughton Newspaper Group in Northern California, found his ambitions for his project shifting. His original goal was simply to help small community papers — many of whom were using 10-year-old technology like Mac OS 9, he noted — publish stories to the web with less hassle.

“Early on the second day of the conference (during the wiki/semantic-web barcamp led by Benjamin Mako Hill) it really hit me that the value of this project is not found in efficiencies gained by news organizations,” Boydston said. “The real value is in surfacing valuable data online, so that it can be shared with our communities. It’s not about publishing faster or cheaper, it’s about publishing more.”

Boydston started to envision newspapers using his CMS uploader “to create a wiki of historical documents from a newspaper’s archive.” This trove of old articles could be the starting point for crowdsourcing a project on local community history.

“Taking an asset largely forgotten (old archive stories) and building an interactive, engaged online community around it is raising the bar pretty high for small community news organizations,” Boydston said. In this way, he said, he hopes the CMS uploader “will serve both the technology laggards and the innovators.”

The text files published to the web using his CMS uploader will be indexable and searchable. (At this point, the application won’t work for PDFs, video or audio, Boydston said.) “You might think of the CMS uploader as poor man’s DocumentCloud,” Boydston said, “but only in that it facilitates the creation of an easy to use, online repository of information.”

On his web site, Boydston has a sample upload of articles to a WordPress account. For 900 stories, Boydston notes, “The keyword indexing took about 4-5 minutes, but the actual data import was under 10 seconds.”

POSTED     June 25, 2009, 7 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Knight News Challenge 2009
Show comments  
Show tags
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms
“We’d like to move to other platforms, particularly as we see the changes in how people consume television.”
A program from Poynter and ONA is helping foster a community of female leaders in digital media
The Women’s Leadership Academy provides camaraderie and concrete advice beyond a bundle of platitudes.
Come talk ad blockers with Nieman Lab and a set of experts in New York
We’re having our first event in New York City with industry leaders: Wednesday, December 2 at 6 p.m.
What to read next
How one blog helped spark The New York Times’ digital evolution
“I certainly had editors tell me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on Bird Week. But that was the best part of City Room…We were like unsupervised children.”
572News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology
Among those experimenting is The Wall Street Journal, which plans to open source its 360-degree mobile video and VR technology and hopes to turn VR into more of a mainstay of its storytelling.
502Podcasting in 2015 feels a lot like blogging circa 2004: exciting, evolving, and trouble for incumbents
The same trends we saw a decade ago — professionalization on one hand, platformization on the other — sure seem to be playing out again.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Sports Illustrated
E.W. Scripps
The Daily Telegraph
CBS News
Global Voices
Tucson Citizen
The Daily
El Faro