Hear Ye! Major Newspapers Team with Mozilla on Digital Comments Platform

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 19, 2014

Thanks to a $3.89 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a  Miami-based philanthropic group that focuses on media and the arts, Mozilla is embarking on a project that will help connect some of the world's top journalists with readers, viewers and content consumers. 

The Washington Post, the New York Times and Mozilla "will team up to create digital tools that will make it easier for readers to post comments and photos on news sites and to interact with journalists and each other," according to announcement from The Washington Post.

No doubt, Mozilla will focus on open tools in this effort, and the tools could end up influencing sites around the web that deliver content. According to The Washington Post:

"The most ambitious aim of the project is to create a feature that would efficiently highlight the most relevant and pertinent reader comments on an article, perhaps through word-recognition software. Another feature would categorize and rank commenters according to their previous postings."

"As described by its developers, the as-yet-unnamed system aims to standardize the many different 'community engagement' systems that Web sites now use to collect and publish outside contributions, especially reader comments and photos."

"The Post and the Times not only hope to incorporate the system on their Web sites but intend to share them with other publishers and bloggers, much like the WordPress publishing tools that enable anyone to create their own Web site, said Marc Lavallee, editor of interactive news technology at the Times and another steering-committee member."

The New York Times has done its own coverage of the new project:

"Digital news organizations have long used reader-powered publishing platforms as a way to generate free content as well as to help increase the time that their audience spends on their websites. Some newspapers and magazines have been slow to develop these platforms because they worry about quality control. The New York Times, for example, screens every reader comment for tone and language before publishing....But as it has become clear that readers spend additional time on websites where they can actively participate, more publications are embracing platforms...The Times, which will commit up to six employees to the project, said that it had considered buying available software but that it had concluded along with The Post that it would be easier to customize a platform built in-house."

 It's good to see some of the biggest news organizations waking up to the new ways that people want to interact digitally with the content that they consume. The partners say that this project will take up to two years to complete.