Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

hNews Adopted by AOL and TownNews

Oct. 23, 2009, 3:27 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Jose Zamora is a Journalism Program Associate at Knight Foundation

Here's'evidence that the Knight News Challenge projects, experiments we hoped will speed media innovation, are having impact: The Transparency Initiative announced this week that AOL and TownNews have adopted the Knight funded microformat - hNews - to mark up their news stories. They also announced that the Associated Press will start publicly using it by the end of the year.

Background: In 2008 Martin Moore from the Media Standards Trust and Tim Berners-Lee from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) received a Knight News Challenge grant to develop a project to help news providers "mark up" their news stories by providing additional information about the sources of the facts in their stories.

To do that they designed hNews, a way for content creators to add information on their sources to their reports, as a form of 'source tagging.' For instance, a reporter could note that an article was based on personal observations, interviews with eyewitnesses or specific, original documents. Additional information could describe the credentials of the reporter or the ethics of the news organization.

Search engines would then use this additional data -- the 'story behind the story' -- to help people find news that is higher quality as they define it.'A reader searching the phrase 'balloon boy' for example, might find 12,000 articles. But filtering by 'eyewitness accounts' would yield a more selective list. Or filtering by the type of news provider.

Moore and Berners-Lee have been working with media organizations on how to best integrate the tagging into journalists' normal workflow. You can read more about the project and the adoption of hNews by AOL and TownNews on Martin Moore's recent post on the MediaShift Idea Lab blog.