Comments from John Paton’s blog on The Ben Franklin Project

Sam Piroton Says:
April 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Reply

Here is another good link; topic “a google newsroom”. really worth reading; was written by Benoit Raphael, director of

Thanks to my friend @davanac for the alert.

Toby Murdock Says:
April 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Reply

Great post! In particular I like what you had to say here:

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?

Those indeed are the key questions. And I think that the answer is that much of the role media going forward will be guiding and filtering content that their community produces. It increases the depth of coverage while controlling your cost structure.

For example, I saw this article in one of your papers’ sites. It covered a high school sports game, and amounted to one sentence (understandable, given staff constraints). How much deeper do you think the coverage of that game could be–paragraphs, photos, quotes, even videos–if you opened up your sites to your community to contribute to and then empowered your editorial team to manage and curate those contributions? It is the winning “crowdsourced” formula that so many sites are succeeding with: SeekingAlpha, BleacherReport, GDGT, AllVoices, etc.

One thing about all of those sites, however: none were done on WordPress, because WordPress is meant for one, or at most a dozen, contributors. But true crowdsourced sites have hundreds or more in their communities contributing. So all the crowdsourced pioneers listed above had to build their own systems to be able to manage such a community.

That’s where we come in: Grogger is a platform for grogs (“group blogs”) that are specifically meant for crowdsourced publishing. Our platform is free to use (though there are modest charges for advanced features, just like WordPress) and would be a great fit for your project.

Would be eager to help out on the project. Let us know!

nona breaux Says:
April 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Reply

I think The Reporter is always up for a challenge. We have a small staff, like everyone else, but we’ve been doing great at video, live streaming from a few events with the netbook, Web first, tweeting, facebook, etc. So, chosen or not, we’d like to be part of this experiment in some way.

Vince Carey Says:
April 13, 2010 at 2:48 am | Reply

This is one of the more interesting ideas out forth. I would like to hear more on how it would work time wise and how we would use the web to enhance the coverage

Andy Hachadorian Says:
April 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Reply

After thinking about this during the course of the day, and reading and re-reading your e-mail, I believe it’s worth a try. (I suppose I should have talked to Frank or Ed first, but what the heck…) I believe I understand your goals here and I think with people like Karl here as well as working with the corporate team, it probably could be accomplished. I think it’s one of those things we sit around scratching our heads saying, “Heck, I dunno. We’ve never tried that before…”

In terms of quality journalism, I believe the Daily Local does that. We are fortunate to have a staff of very smart kids. My bosses always told me to “hire staff that’s smarter than you. They’ll make you look good.” So that’s what we’ve done. We have the Dave Zeitlins, the Danielle Lynches, the Tom Kellys and others and they’ve rewarded the newspaper with lots of honors from their journalism peers. I’d put my staff up to anyone’s. I do believe, though, that if we reconstructed the newsroom and the way we do things, they could do even better work. I still think they are burdened with a lot of crap stuff which I am still working on how to solve. It’s not an easy problem to solve although I’m guessing our Community Journalists play a part in that solution. Not to mention the model of do what you do best and link to the rest. I see a day not too far away when the paid reporters work in tandem with the CJ staff. And we have meetings with the public and as a huge team, we all push the news out together. It’s still a little fuzzy, but that’s how I see it. Maybe we should get a group of editors together and spend a day or two sketching out the newsroom of the future – although the future is now…Whaddya think?

Sam Piroton Says:
April 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Reply

Very interesting post again! Let me bring my 2 cents. A similar operation was set up a few weeks ago by 5 public-run media, here, in Europe. it was called “huis clos sur le net”. Goal was to isolate 5 journos, with Twitter and fbook as only news source. No tv, no radio, no smartphone, no newspaper. They had to figure out how to use twitter/FB, see if it was reliable, control-able, how to check facts and so on… The 5 journos were all social media newbies.

For those who understand french, their blog:

More links:,0,5423933.story

The experiment was controversial, because biased. 5 newbies, so not really used to the tool. Neither can yu imagine having twitter ON, and not being able to listen to radio or TV. And because it was heavily advertised, false news/rumors started circulating…

So, im curious to see how your test will develop. But i’d say, if you want it to be efficient, really interesting, don t start from scratch. First, build a good following/follower ratio; well trained people.

My 2 cents…

Jeff Johns Says:
April 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Reply

Here are some suggested tools:

Ad Creation:

Photo Processing / In-Print Ads: – OR –

Online Publishing: (download and run on any site for free) – If set up properly you could use this as your entire publishing system and reverse publish to print. Have everyone type out articles in WordPress, edit, update, edit, update, live online and then export articles under category of ‘print’ each night. Workflow would have to be worked out but it could work.

Just some suggestions off the top of my head.

Tom Valentino Says:
April 12, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Reply

I, too, am very intrigued by the possibilities of The Ben Franklin Project and would love for The News-Herald to be chosen for it. With the talents of our staff, I think we can really get something amazing out of this.

John Bertosa Says:
April 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Reply

I just want to second what Tricia Ambrose said about Project Ben Franklin. I know the other reporters and editors here at The News-Herald would enjoy the remarkable challenge.

Tatiana Burdiak Says:
April 12, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Reply

I came across this article today and thought it related to your proposed question. It is about how journalists are using social media in their day-to-day work and the instant powerful connection between the writer and the reader. Thought I would share.

Laura Kessel Says:
April 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Reply

We at The News-Herald are eager to take on this project. It’s bold and forward-thinking, and we look forward to telling our stories and reaching out to our coverage area — and beyond — using these new tools.

As the methods of delivery of news change around us, we need to keep up, and through this effort, can prove to ourselves and our readers that we’re going to be here and providing the journalism they’ve expected from us for 130 years … just from a different portal.

Tricia Ambrose Says:
April 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Reply

How exciting!

The News-Herald would love to be the site of Project Ben Franklin.

We have a newsroom full of journalists excited by the possibilities offered by today’s technology and are eager to serve our communities in new ways.

Morris Hagerman Says:
April 12, 2010 at 10:29 am | Reply

I am not sure I can speak for the Oakland Press, but would love to see it here. We have more on line readers than print. I think this might push us in the right direction and serve a community that wants it.

Carol Sauve Says:
April 12, 2010 at 2:38 am | Reply

We are a weekly but I think the Ann Arbor Journal should be your beta. The A2 Journal is less than a year old and has a community that will be highly involved with this process. Heritage gets the job done with short editorial and advertising staff, so I believe the whole team would look at this as a blessing. Please give us your consideration as a viable choice.

Patti Paul Says:
April 11, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Reply


I’ll volunteer to help in any way that I can. It would be cool to work with Bruce & Jon on a project. Our newsrooms are weeklies, probably not the target you’re looking for, but what do I know. We’re still trying to get people to discuss what we post. We do have heart though.

Jack Kramer Says:
April 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Reply

Ditto – New Haven volunteers..

Phil Heron Says:
April 11, 2010 at 11:28 am | Reply

Consider us your first volunteer. I find myself working more and more online most days. We are up to our neck in Twitter, Facebook and constantly updating the site, so I say let’s give it a shot. I’ll convince those staff members not on board to jump in.

By the way, remember the story of the girls who committed suicide on the train tracks?

Today we have one of the stories I most wanted to get, an interview with the third girl who was there that day but backed away from the tracks at the last minute. She tells, fairly starkly and in her own words, what happened that morning.

My guess is we’re going to get some serious blowback from those in the community who believe we already have sensationalized the story, but I still think it’s a story that needed to be told. It’s the lead on our site this morning, with video.

The girl herself did not want to be on video or have her picture taken, but she gave us a shot of herself.

I’d love to know what Jim Willse thinks of it.

Philip E. Heron
Delaware County Daily and Sunday Times
Phone: 610-622-8818

Aaron Nobel Says:
April 11, 2010 at 8:03 am | Reply

We volunteer.

Jemimah Knight Says:
April 11, 2010 at 12:53 am | Reply

This looks a fascinating approach to follow. Nice attention to content. Do you think it will help the publications economically?

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