According to Knight Foundation journalism program associate Jose Zamora, the project’s goal is to expand the field of media innovation by building a bridge between the news and technology communities. “We have been looking for things we have not imagined, things that are Web native, not merely journalistic ideas that are on the Web,” he said.
Earlier this year, designers and developers from around the world were invited to submit ideas online at Drumbeat.org/en-US/journalism in a series of news technology challenges: Unlocking Video, Beyond Comment Threads, and People-Powered News.
“Video, comment threads, and people-powered news are elements provided by the Web that have not been used to their maximum potential,” Zamora said. “They provide limitless opportunities to provide news and information in new and engaging ways.”
Mozilla executive director Mark Surman said about 400 ideas were submitted. After a community voting process, a review panel selected 60 entries to move on to the Knight-Mozilla Learning Lab, where participants developed their challenge idea. At the end of September, the strongest candidates will head to Berlin for “hackfests,” where they can start creating their prototypes.
The most promising candidates will then be placed inside newsrooms at Al Jazeera English, the BBC, Boston.com, Guardian Online, Zeit Online, and other leading news organizations for a one-year paid fellowship. Five fellows will be placed in fall 2011, and 10 more will be placed in 2012.
“We looked for candidates with a willingness to share their challenges and develop tech solutions in an open way, and to make the process of solving the challenge and the technologies developed available to anyone who wants to use them,” Zamora said.
Surman added, “(The challenge) is a very long process, so those who complete the three steps will be high-quality people … the ideal candidate should be willing to get their hands dirty working side by side with journalists.”
Surman said future challenge topics in the proposed three-year project could include using social media as a source for mainstream news and looking at the traditional print story vs. a story posted in real time on the Internet.