Knight-Mozilla effort to foster newsroom innovation with $4 million in new funding

OpenNews project is building a thriving community of media technologists


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Knight-Mozilla OpenNews: Cultivating the community of people behind the code” by Marie Gilot on Knight Blog

ATLANTA — (Oct. 17, 2013) — Knight-Mozilla OpenNews will expand its work connecting technologists with newsrooms to create new storytelling tools and cultivate cultural change in the field of journalism, with $4 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“OpenNews is helping to shape both the present and the future of journalism by building a community of developers writing groundbreaking, open-source code in the newsroom and beyond,” said Dan Sinker, director of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project. “We want to foster journalism that is of the Web instead of simply on the Web.”

Initiated by Mozilla in 2010, and supported by Knight Foundation since 2011, the OpenNews project has fostered a community of newsroom technologists. In its first three years, OpenNews placed 13 Knight-Mozilla Fellows in nine newsrooms across five countries to help solve digital challenges.  The fellows have created more than 50 software projects, including the popular Tabula (a tool for taking data out of PDFs), which is used by more than a dozen news organizations from ProPublica to The New York Times. The project’s training programs and workshops have further brought together developers and reporters across the world to collaborate on problem-solving. Additionally, Source, an OpenNews Web publication, has allowed developers to share code and journalism tools with tens of thousands of people.

The funding will allow OpenNews to broaden its work with a growing community of developers and newsrooms that is redefining how journalism works on the Web. Starting in 2014, OpenNews will hold a series of “Code Convenings,” bringing together news developers and open-source contributors to collaborate on shared projects. OpenNews will also enhance the Source platform, through a dedicated team and more coverage and case studies. Additionally, 2014 will mark the first Source Conference (SRC CON), an “unconference” and hack day devoted to journalism technology.

OpenNews will continue its support of journalistic-themed hack days around the world, which has allowed the program to reach 22 countries. The flagship Knight-Mozilla Fellowship will add five news partners in 2014, and a growing global alumni network will organize events, conduct training and develop code for use in journalism.

“By providing free, world-class technology solutions that any news organization can use, the OpenNews project has revealed the great value of open Web technologies and sparked adoption across the industry,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “In its next phase it will work to build stronger bridges between the developer world and everyday newsrooms, while establishing itself as a source for continuous media innovation.”

“The way we interact with the news is integral to the health of the Open Web—and to ensuring the Internet is transparent and can be shaped by us,” said Mark Surman, executive director of Mozilla. “We’re thrilled to be expanding the OpenNews program, and to continue to push the limits of how technology can change and shape the way we think of and tell the news.”

Since the program began, Knight-Mozilla Fellows have revamped the measurement metrics of journalism, presented multimedia content in new ways, investigated how to gather and display data, and taught less-technical colleagues about the concepts of Web development. The alumni of the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships continue to engage and innovate in journalism through work in newsrooms, new startups and academia.

The OpenNews community has grown significantly as well, holding 40 journalism-themed hack days around the world with hundreds of participants. Source, launched one year ago today, has become a hub for the community, growing in readership and influence monthly.

The Mozilla Festival in London Oct. 25-27 will feature members of the OpenNews community and code they have developed. OpenNews also will announce the 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

About Mozilla

Mozilla is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better. We emphasize principle over profit and believe that the Web is a shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold. We work with a worldwide community to create open source products like Mozilla Firefox, and to innovate for the benefit of the individual and the betterment of the Web. The result is great products built by passionate people and better choices for everyone. For more information, visit

About OpenNews

OpenNews connects a global network of developers, journalists, makers and hackers to collaborate on innovative code and new ideas. We believe a community of peers working, learning and solving problems together can create the tools journalism needs to thrive on the open Web. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 786-300-8317, [email protected]