, the , and the have announced a $3.89 million grant from the to build an online community platform.
The three partners will use the funds to create an open-source content and commenting platform that enables audiences to more deeply engage with media coverage and helps news organizations better manage user comments and contributions. When implemented, the platform will enable readers to submit pictures, links, and other media; track discussions; and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers, in turn, will be able to repurpose reader-generated content and foster conversations through targeted content and notifications. The platform will be shared with all news organizations as a free, scalable alternative to proprietary software and community platforms, which can be costly and difficult for publishers to integrate and customize.
The project ultimately hopes to make it easier for news organizations to collect and package reader contributions and produce immersive, user-driven narratives; give journalists a platform to discover and highlight unique voices within their communities; increase content quality and value for readers; and shift the basis of the online relationship between journalists and users from comments to conversation.
"When it comes to the essential task of engaging readers, different publishers have different needs," said Marc Lavallee, editor of interactive news technology at the New York Times. "This collaboration gives us the opportunity to create a flexible solution for our industry, one that can be thoughtfully woven into each publication’s digital presence."