5 Creative uses of DocumentCloud

Since DocumentCloud burst on to the scene in 2009, newsrooms have used the tool to publish, analyze, and annotate documents all of sorts including police reports, government documents, and court records. DocumentCloud can, however, be used for more than just your run-of-the-mill documents and in a variety of creative ways, as evidenced by the examples below.


WNYC: NYC Ballot Design

How do you show the public that a ballot for an upcoming election is flawed and hard to use? WNYC found its answer in DocumentCloud and used the site’s annotation tool to highlight flaws in the design of a NYC ballot and how they could be corrected.


ProPublica: The Magnetar Trade

After a hedge named Magnetar declined to comment on detailed questions posed to it by ProPublica, the site decided to turn the tables and publish the actual letter sent to them by the company. In the investigative story, ProPublica linked directly to the paragraphs in the letter where Magnetar refused to comment. Here’s an example.


Washington Post: U.S. Constitution in the news

For a project for The Post created by yours truly, we used one of the oldest documents in American history — the U.S. Constitution — and denoted with sections are currently under political debate or referenced in recent news.


The Las Vegan Sun: Do No Harm

Posting a bunch of online documents can be useful, but daunting for the reader. For a five-part story on preventable injuries in local hospitals, the Sun uploaded the documents to DocumentCloud and linked to them in each article. The docs are also cleverly organized on a standard webpage with easy to identify thumbnails and in a unique interactive visualization.

PBS NewsHour: Mark Twain

NewsHour used DocumentCloud to publish a century-old manuscript of an unpublished Mark Twain essay that had been sitting in archives. Those who find Twain’s handwriting to be hard to read can switch between the original document and an easier to read text view.

Many thanks to the DocumentCloud team for their assistance in crafting this post.