Getting Started

From John Paton:

The Ben Franklin Project: A Bold New Experiment

If going forward, we are going to be part of the new ecological system for news then we need to learn how to harness the power of that system and earn our place in it every day.

How do we learn about the arguments in our community? How do we work with the people we used to call the audience and who are now participants in the collection and dissemination of news? What is our role here? Is it to add context and our expertise as journalists? And do we bring value to the community by creating a place for ideas and stories to be shared and discussed with a mixture of professional and amateur content? And always how do we do this when the deadline is right now?

Well, in our case we are just gonna try. And if we fail we are gonna try again. And we won’t stop until we get it right.

In the next 30 days, we are going to attempt to produce one single edition of one of our newspapers using only tools available for free on the web. Using social media and other digital tools available to us we will crowd source the news assignments, creation, editing and publishing of content. And we will do all of this in real-time with constant updates to that newspaper’s website.

Our focus will be on working the new news ecology to see where we as professional journalists fit in this new system and how we best serve our communities. We will also use free software available on the web to create tools to help us manage our relationships with advertisers and readers as well as invoicing tools.

We’re calling this The Ben Franklin Project and it will be led by Jon Cooper, our head of digital content. Coop will be joined by me, Dan Sarko, our chief digital officer; Adam Burnham, our head of sales and Bruce Hollows, our director of planning and development. Jay Rosen (www.pressthink.org) and Jeff Jarvis (www.buzzmachine.com) from our Advisory Board will be helping us along the way.

We’re looking for volunteers. Will it be your newsroom?

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