5 Innovative Journalism Proposals From #MozNewsLab’s Graduating Class

The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership (also known as MoJo), recently completed their inaugural Knight-Mozilla Learning Lab on August 5, 2011. The 60+ participants each worked on a final project and submitted a short video pitch to describe how their project works. These end result is the production of a software product which could be integrated into a news organization.

Here are just a few of the proposals which I found to be particularly interesting. Phillip Smith, Mozilla’s News Innovation Specialist, has aggregated all the proposal videos into a series of three posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).


Curious dubs itself as “an open source tool that connects people to people and questions to answers”. The way Curious works is pretty simple as well. A user presses a button when they see an event that piques their curiosity. The user can choose whether to be notified when the event they’ve seen becomes a news story online, or to be contacted as a witness. The platform, created by Trina Chiasson, is similar to TapIn Bay Area, which we covered a few weeks ago. You can try out a very cool HTML5 simulation of Curious on the platform’s website. Local newspapers could definitely use this service to get better news tips from out in the field.


IncentivEyes, by Cody Shotwell, takes a very interesting spin on normal reader engagement by incentivizing user engaement using a news organization’s existing resources. Imagine if you were a regular commenter on a news site. As you comment on articles, or as other users vote up your comment, you gain points which you can then use for any number of deals. It’s sort of like Foursquare for your news website. I could definitely see a cool alt-weekly taking advantage of this program and really establishing a precedent.


Newsle allows you to “rearrange the news” by using a custom web-based platform that is both crowdsourced and social. Up-to-date trending topics can pulled from Twitter, RSS feeds, or other APIs. Tagging is a big feature of Newsle; tags on a story are shared globally, and intersections of stories which are similarly tagged become trends. According to creator Laura Hilliger, “aggregating everyone’s socially shared views of the news will allow us to tell not just the story of what’s happening, but how it’s being perceived”. I could really see how Newsle would work for either hyperlocal news or local news within a shared community, such as a college campus.

Open News Player

Even with all the advances in multimedia journalism, web video is still a frontier which is in sore need of innovation. James Greenaway, the creator of Open News Player, suggests a better platform for creating and publishing interactive and accessible video journalism in the browser. HTML5 video is synced with accessible content to allow users to interact with video in new ways, such as manipulating charts or diagrams or copy and paste text quotes. Given the increase in how people consume the news on mobile devices, Open News Player is a platform I think any news organization could benefit from.

The Big Picture

“The conversation is the navigation.” This catchy blurb from creator Nicola Hughes‘ pitch video brilliantly summarizes The Big Picture perfectly. Users, viewers and guests submit content (audio, video, text) to The Big Picture along with a justification of their submission. Stories are built around social relevancy, and once the story is published it will continue to update as people submit information to the platform. I can see The Big Picture being used for breaking news, as well as large events like conferences or music festivals.

Which of the graduating class’ proposals is your favorite?

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