Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The Worcester Sun wants to bootstrap paywalled hyperlocal digital into a Sunday print product
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July 17, 2014, 2 p.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   July 17, 2014

The latest round of small grants from the Knight Prototype Fund includes several projects and digital tools that could eventually prove useful to journalists.

knightKFA developer from Grist wants to build tools to measure audience in ways outside of pageviews or clicks. Another project aims to create a better tracking system for court records in Massachusetts through a public database. Talkbox, a project from New York Public Radio, would repurpose old phone booths to create a two-way line between the community and the newsroom to help with reader engagement and reporting.

All Prototype Fund grantees receive $35,000 to fund their ideas in the early stages. Each project goes through a prototyping workshop and instruction on human-centered design with the LUMA Institute. After that, teams have six months to work on their project before a demo day. (Obligatory disclaimer: Knight is a funder of Nieman Lab, though not through the Prototype Fund.)

Here’s the full list of 16 projects:

DIY StoryCorps by StoryCorps (Project lead: Dean Haddock): Advancing the mission of StoryCorps, a national program that records, preserves and shares people’s stories, by developing a mobile app that allows anyone to create do-it-yourself interviews.

Do Public Good Button by Public Good Software (Project lead: Dan Ratner): Developing a tool that allows people to take action on important issues through news articles; for example, someone reading an article about drunk driving could click a button and connect with related charities and advocacy groups.

Engagement tools by Grist (Project lead: Chip Geller): Allowing newsrooms to better measure audience engagement, beyond clicks and page views, by creating an open-source WordPress plugin that will measure “attention minutes” to determine how long users are interacting with content.

Facto_Bot (Project lead: Will Knight): Helping prevent misinformation on Twitter by developing software that identifies stories that have been modified, and alerts people who tweeted or retweeted links to these stories that content has changed.

FilmSync App by University of North Carolina (Project lead: Steven King): Creating an app that will connect people who are watching a news story or documentary on television with related content through a second screen app on their smartphones.

Global I-Hub ICIJ (Project lead: Mar Cabra): Making collaboration on cross-border investigative stories easier by providing a secure, easy-to-use platform for reporters to communicate through Facebook-like status updates, threaded communications on specific topics, individual messaging and file sharing.

Market Atlas (Project lead: Jon Gosier): Scaling a data provider network that allows citizens to collect and share microeconomic data from countries in Africa that lack financial infrastructure; providing reliable, consistent financial data should encourage greater investment in the area.

OpenStreetMap Plugin for Open Data Kit by Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (Project lead: Kate Chapman): Allowing easier collection of open geographic data, even in places with connectivity issues, by combining Open Data Kit’s data collection with OpenStreetMap’s data community.

PatientsAssemble by PatientsLikeMe (Project lead: Chris Fidyk): Helping people with chronic illnesses interact with policymakers through open-source collaborative tools that will allow users to provide feedback and shape issues that are important to them.

Pilot for School by The Virginian-Pilot (Project lead: Shawn Day): Building a targeted digital system that will allow Virginia teachers to search newspaper content and use it to complement class curriculums; content will align with Virginia’s Standards of Learning and help students apply academic concepts to what’s happening in their community.

Public Database of Massachusetts Court Records by MassINC (Project lead: Steve Koczela): Allowing journalists and the public to better monitor court cases through an online filing and database system for Massachusetts court records.

Public Record (Advanced Emergency Radio Scanner and Repository) (Project lead: Tal Achituv): Creating a tool that will allow journalists to better track current events and investigate past events; with the tool newsrooms can record interactions on police/emergency radios, set alerts and listen to archived content.

QC Tools by Bay Area Video Coalition (Project lead: Carol Varney): Allowing media organizations, journalists and others to easily preserve analog video through an open-source video digitization app that is inexpensive and easy to use.

Talkbox by New York Public Radio (Project lead: Caitlan Thompson): Involving the community in news stories by repurposing phone booths in specific neighborhoods that will provide residents with a direct, two-way line to the New York Public Radio newsroom; a “Talkbox” can help with engaging new audiences or to get information in a neighborhood where a reporting project is taking place.

The Last Graph (Project Lead: Ben Conners): Helping journalists engage with audiences by allowing readers to interact with the final paragraph of a story through a database of “actions” that lead to reader involvement on an issue; for example, the last graph of an article on air pollution could include an action that encourages readers to sign a pledge to use public transit more.

Veritza (Project lead: Djordje Padejski): Helping reporters more easily find story leads from public records through a web platform that allows users to create alerts on information in these records; the platform will do this by scraping and aggregating data and analyzing it for patterns and anomalies.

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