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The future of local news is “civic information,” not “declining legacy systems,” says new report
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Sept. 30, 2015, 10 a.m.

The Associated Press has nabbed $400,000 from the Knight Foundation to hire more data journalists and expand the types of projects that it does. In particular, the money will help AP share more of its datasets with local news organizations. From the release:

With the funding, The Associated Press will add additional data journalists to its team and increase its distribution of data sets that include localized information to thousands of news organizations. This expansion will lead to more collaborative projects with newsrooms across the country. The Associated Press will also establish and distribute data journalism best practices as an addendum to the 2017 Associated Press Stylebook, focusing on style, ethics and standards. Additionally, it will create an online portal where customers can download market-specific information.

In 2014, for example, the AP published an investigative story on flood insurance rate hikes nationwide. That story was distributed with an interactive map and sidebars for each of the 50 states, and data for 18,000 communities across the country. The data meant that “local reporters could really dig in deep and write their own stories about their town or city, regardless of size,” national investigative editor Rick Pienciak said at the time.

Another example was investigation of commute times in America, with an interactive map.

This sort of national/local collaboration is something Knight’s been increasingly interested in supporting. Last month, for instance, Knight gave ProPublica $2.2 million to, among other things, increase the nonprofit’s work with local outlets on data projects. You can view Knight’s recent grant to the California Civic Data Coalition through the same lens — using the data skills of a national or regional group to provide useful data to local outlets that may lack that capacity.

The AP previously won a Knight grant to build a data journalism tool. (Full disclosure: Knight also helps fund Nieman Lab.)

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