Knight Apps Simpify, Improve Online Content

Over the past two days one thing has become painfully obvious at the ASNE conference; the industry needs to not only focus on online content, but make the content better.

The Internet poses a unique set of problems and opportunities for news media. Long gone are the days when a Twitter feed and Facebook fan page meant your organization was keeping up with the tech trend. No, today's web-based news consumer expects bells and whistles to hold their attention.

Enter the "Six Innovations You Can Use in Your Newsroom" panel. These products, presented a la carte by their respective organizations, are all currently being used by news organizations all over the country. All of the projects were funded by the Knight Foundation and each offers a unique service that can be used to enhance your online content.

Snagfilms Ever written an article and had a flashback to a National Geographic documentary that would go perfectly with your piece? With Snagfilms, you can actually insert full-length, professionally produced non-fiction films from major film companies and independent film makers. The free Snagfilms library features over 1,100 films ranging from three minute shorts to theatrical length features on everything from public policy to sports and entertainment.

Poltiwidgets So you're writing an article about your local congressmember's bid for re-election and you want to illustrate the candidate's earmark record. With free Politiwidgets you can embed a customizable, resizeable infographic with a headshot and the exact information you need. The information is pulled from websites such as and and can be set to update automatically or show as a snapshot. The widget can be set to feature earmarks, sponsors, top contractors, vote report and business card information.

hNews One of the problems with online news content is that it is often missing provenance information such as the source and licensing terms. hNews is a microformat that identifies information such as source, dateline, geographic location and license information in a consistent machine readable way. This information adds credibility to a story and also makes it easier to track.

Printcasting Want to put out a short newsletter style publication but have no design or software experience? Printcasting may be able to help you. Printcasting is a niche publishing solution that pulls information from blogs and RSS feeds to create a printable, PDF magazine. The content is uploaded to templates that the "publisher" can play around with the get just the right look. The service also has a self-serve ad feature.

NewsCloud Having a Facebook page is essential for any news organization today. However, no consumer wants to look at a screen shot of your paper's website labeled as a Facebook app. NewsCloud has gone beyond the Facebook page to create a new fanpage experience. Instead of just repurposing content from your website, NewsCloud takes advantage of the Facebook platform to create new content to engage consumers. Tabs like "answers" and "ideas" let users not only communicate with each other but with you as well.

DocumentCloud Although research is an essential part of any reporting process, no reporter can honestly say they love curling up with an 800 page government report. DocumentCloud is a microformat for news documents that helps annotate and organize source information. Documents are uploaded to the website which can then pull out information such as names and dates in an easily searchable format. Documents are kept private unless published and can be used as supplementary information for consumers. Reporters can even make public and private annotations for co-workers and consumers to read.

Reporter: Nikole L. Pegues, Howard University


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