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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

DocumentCloud is a project that uses collaborative methods to host and organize primary-source documents.

DocumentCloud was initially an independent, nonprofit organization that was founded through a partnership between The New York Times and ProPublica. The two groups received a two-year grant of $719,500 through the 2009 Knight News Challenge to start up the project. The site launched in beta in March 2010 and has three full-time staff members.

In June 2011, when the Knight News Challenge funding ran out, the project became part of the nonprofit group Investigative Reporters and Editors. It received another grant from the Knight Foundation for $1.4 million in 2014.

The project is a software system, website, and set of open standards intended as a tool for investigative reporting, and only news organizations, bloggers and watchdog groups can upload documents there. Its 200-plus contributors include many news organizations as well as other groups such as the ACLU, National Security Archive and Sunlight Foundation. DocumentCloud’s software, however, is open-source, and anyone can view the documents.

One of DocumentCloud’s primary missions is to make source documents searchable. The project uses Tesseract‘s optical character recognition software to read documents and OpenCalais to pull data from them, including key people, places, and dates.

DocumentCloud’s technology has been used on the websites of such news organizations as PBS, ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune to allow readers to search annotated copies of source documents.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
June 11, 2018 / Christine Schmidt
In the hunt for sustainability, DocumentCloud and MuckRock are joining together as one organization — Muckcloud? Docrock? MuckumentCloud? Just kidding. They’re keeping their own names, but MuckRock and DocumentCloud are joining into one organization on the quest for sustainability as a hub for some of journalism...
Oct. 3, 2017 / Joshua Benton
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a Slack bot for journalists — 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 announce...
July 27, 2017 / Christine Schmidt
DocumentCloud will start asking some users to chip in as it leaves IRE for its own nonprofit — For six years, DocumentCloud has enabled journalists to upload, annotate, organize, and share primary source files with readers and embed them into articles. They’ve also been doing it free of charge, for everyone....
June 19, 2014 / Caroline O'Donovan
Why The New York Times and The Washington Post (and Mozilla) are building an audience engagement platform together — Both excitement and skepticism surrounded Thursday’s announcement that Knight has invested $3.89 million to help The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Mozilla collaborate on an open-source community engageme...
Aug. 12, 2013 / Caroline O'Donovan
Exegesis: How early adapters, innovative publishers, legacy media companies and more are pushing toward the annotated web — Last week, Quartz became the latest in a succession of media companies to begin experimenting with a new type of commenting system. As a number of media companies reconsider how to deal with comments, everyone’s ta...

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: July 3, 2014.
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Craigslist is a network of online communities focused on free classified advertisements — with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, goods, services, community, and discussion forums. Craig Newmark, inspired by his experience with the early list-servs the WELL and Usenet, created the service in 1995 as an email distribution list for friends and friends-of-friends. The…

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