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From newsroom to newsletter: How local journalists are DIYing important coverage via email
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Oct. 3, 2017, 12:19 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: bots.qz.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   October 3, 2017

Quartz got some money from Knight last year to launch its own Bot Studio, building interactive tools/chat interfaces/general bot substrate for both itself and other newsrooms. (More here and here.) Today, Quartz announces the latest fruit of that effort — a Slack bot named Quackbot, built in collaboration with DocumentCloud:

Together we’re releasing Quackbot, which performs tasks useful to reporters, editors, and news producers right where so many of us work all day — inside Slack. In its first version, Quackbot can do a select few tricks that might prove handy in a modern newsroom…But we’re excited to collaborate with the rest of the journalism world to give Quackbot many more skills over time. Think of it as a fully hosted and friendly interface to open-source tools…

Journalist-programmers are an especially sharing lot. Sure, they’ll work night and day to scoop each other, but once the story’s published they’re happy to share how they did it — even sharing the tools they built. As a result, there are many dozens of useful tools available to programmers in newsrooms everywhere.

But there’s a catch: Not every newsroom has programmers. And even existing programmers might not have the time, skills, or resources to get a project’s code, put it on a server, and keep it working.

It’s in an early state, but a few of those launch features might still be useful to you:

1. It can take a screenshot of any webpage.

2. It will preserve any URL by telling the Internet Archive to save a copy of the page.

3. Given a topic, it can suggest some reliable sources of data.

4. If you provide Quackbot with a URL, it will identify any cringe-worthy clichés on that page.

Soon, Quackbot will also allow journalists to upload PDFs to DocumentCloud, extract text and charts from PDFs, monitor websites for changes, make quick charts, and more. We’re also inviting other journalists to bring their tools into Quackbot, making them readily available within Slack.

Once it achieves anatine maturity, “Quackbot will become a core feature of DocumentCloud, which will maintain the infrastructure and provide troubleshooting and support.”

The bot itself will be available for install this Thursday (such teases), and you can bug John Keefe about it at ONA.

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