OpenNews was launched as a collaboration between the two organizations back in 2011, serving to connect developers, designers, and journalists to explore new ways to combine the principles of “open source” with traditional journalism.
OpenNews has placed more than 30 fellows in around 20 newsrooms around the world, including at the New York Times and the BBC, and has built a “global community of more than 1,100 developers and reporters,” according to Mozilla. One example to emerge from the program is Tabula, a data extraction tool that helps journalists convert text from PDF documents into the more usable CSV format.
“OpenNews was incubated in Mozilla and has grown strong enough to become its own organization,” said Mozilla Foundation’s executive director Mark Surman.
The Knight Foundation, a U.S. not-for-profit that helps promote quality journalism, has now given OpenNews a $1.1. million investment as part of its transition into an independent organization.
“Over the five years of its existence, OpenNews has successfully demonstrated that supporting technologists in newsrooms can advance journalism and help newsrooms address new information demands in the digital age,” said John S. Bracken, vice president for technology innovation at the Knight Foundation. “As an independent organization, it will work to strengthen the journalism industry, while exploring new ways to transform newsroom culture through technology.”
The need for quality journalism is greater than ever, with the so-called “fake news” phenomenon receiving significant attention following major events such as Brexit and the U.S. presidential election. Earlier this week, Google and Facebook announced they were partnering with French newsrooms to combat “fake news” ahead of that country’s upcoming presidential election. It’s clearer than ever that if journalism is to not only survive but thrive, technology will play a pivotal part in the outcome.