Encyclo is an encyclopedia of the future of news, produced by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.
You may already know the Lab for our reporting, analysis, and commentary on how the world of journalism is changing, both through our website and our Twitter feed. The Internet has revolutionized the way news is gathered, assembled, distributed, and consumed, and our mission is to learn about those changes, to identify what’s working and what isn’t, and to do our small part in helping that evolution along.
But our main site emphasizes new developments and the latest news. We think there’s great value in a resource that steps back a bit from the daily updates and focuses on background and context. What is it about Voice of San Diego that people find interesting? How has The New York Times been innovating? What model is Politico trying to achieve? Those kinds of questions are why we decided to build Encyclo — a resource on the most important organizations and issues in journalism’s evolution.
Our initial focus is on the companies and organizations that are having a big impact on the future of news. That includes a lot of traditional news organizations doing innovative work (like The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and CNN) and a lot of newcomers whose business models are made possible by the Internet (like Talking Points Memo, GlobalPost, and West Seattle Blog). Some are nonprofits focusing on high-end investigative and watchdog work; some are building around cheap commodity content or aggregation and hoping search engine optimization will generate revenue.
Reasonable people can make their own judgments about the value of these various outlets — but they’ve all got something to teach us about how the business of news is changing. We believe there’s something to be learned from both ProPublica and Gawker Media, from the Wall Street Journal and WikiLeaks, from the Texas Tribune and the Huffington Post.
In addition to news outlets and organizations, we’ve also included a number of entries on those in the technology world who are having a major impact on news — companies like Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Craigslist.
This is only our initial focus. In the coming months and years, we hope to expand Encyclo into a number of new and exciting directions, providing you with more smart, contextualized information about the most important issues facing journalism today.
The focus of each entry is the main narrative (1), an encyclopedia-style write-up summarizing what’s important about the subject from a future-of-news perspective. That narrative will be updated regularly when there’s new and important news out about the subject. Note that on many entries, the narrative is too long to display in full at first; click “Keep reading” to see the entire narrative.
To the left of the narrative are the key links (2): important news articles and commentaries that give you an idea of the conversations that have gone on around the subject. We’ll also be updating these regularly. We also include a link to the organization’s website and Twitter account.
Below that you’ll find a listing of the organization’s peers, allies, and competitors (3). Some of these will be partners or corporate siblings of the subject; others will be fierce rivals. Consider it a place to explore other outlets working in the same space.
Below that are the five most recent articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab archive on the subject (4). Click the “All Lab posts” link to see our complete archive of relevant articles.
And next to that are the five most recent articles from Mediagazer (5), the terrific aggregator of news about the news business. For most entries, this will be the freshest and newest source of curated news.
On every Encyclo entry page there’s a bit of code that will let you embed a link to that entry on your blog or website. It’s a great way to give your readers access to more background and context on the news organization or company you’re writing about.
If you’re writing a blog post on MinnPost, for instance, embedding our widget will give your reader access to a host of information about MinnPost. We’ll be including these widgets on Lab stories about Encyclo subjects, and we hope you’ll use them too.
We’ve put a lot of effort into compiling the entries here, but we know they’re not perfect. There are important news organizations we’re missing, and there are important details in specific entries that we’ve forgotten.
We’re going to work hard to add entries and keep things up-to-date with the fast-changing world around us. But we need your help. Go to our make-Encyclo-better page and tell us what we need to add, update, improve, or fix. We’ll thank people who help us out on this page. (Plus, if you come to visit us in Cambridge, we’ll buy you the beverage of your choice.) While Encyclo is a Nieman Journalism Lab project, it’ll only achieve its full potential if others get involved.
Project head: Joshua Benton
Lead author: Mark Coddington
Lab staff: Megan Garber, Justin Ellis, Andrew Phelps
Contributor: Michael Morisy
Design and coding: Joshua Benton
Encyclo was made possible through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We’re very grateful for their support for what the Lab does.
We also thank the entire staff at the Nieman Foundation for their help and support, particularly curator Bob Giles and financial director Carole Osterer.
Any questions about Encyclo? Feel free to get in touch.