Knight Blog

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

Custom Facebook News App Engages Readers and Drives Story to Front Page of Local Paper

June 24, 2010, 12:26 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

NewsCloud's Jeff Reifman talks about the new Facebook application 12 media outlets - including the Charlotte Observer - are using to engage readers.

How did this story on a group of atheists putting up a billboard in Charlotte - along Billy Graham Parkway no less - end up on the front page of the Charlotte Observer?

The controversy was first publicized through a post on the Observer's new Facebook application, Insight from the Charlotte Observer, which uses technology developed through a Knight Foundation grant.' Charlotte Insight allows residents to not only comment on the news but also post original stories and blogs. The issue then became a giant local debate with full bore coverage on the Observer's front page and main website, and on local television stations.

While there are more than 400 million Facebook users worldwide, most news organizations lack the knowledge, technical capacity - and often funds - to engage them directly on one of the largest social networks in the world. Jeff Reifman and NewsCloud developed the application to help engage readers in the news. They are now working with 12 outlets to implement it.

Previously, NewsCloud used a Knight grant to test ways to engage youth in news and information through Facebook applications for a student newspaper and an environmental newsmagazine.

We caught up with Reifman at the Future of News and Civic Media conference last week, where he talked about how the'application works.