Date Awarded
Grant Period
03/12/07 to 06/30/11
Focus Areas
Journalism, Media Innovation
Knight News Challenge

Grantee Contact

Featured Media

To create an open-source version of VillageSoup’s successful community news software, combining professional journalism, blogs, citizen journalism, online advertising and “reverse publishing” from online to print.

Goals: “Turning independent weekly newspaper companies and entrepreneurs into an imposing, lively, worldwide creative energy that is competitive with media company chains.”

Richard Anderson has received $885,000 to rewrite the VillageSoup online publishing platform from its original proprietary software to a new open-source publishing system. It will field-test this system in its existing Times/Citizen newspaper operations and in up to 12 additional communities. After successful field testing and debugging in year two of the grant, it will make this new publishing system available to anyone. VillageSoup launched in 1996 as a for-profit company that developed web applications for local businesses and used news to drive traffic to those sites. A key element of its business model, even back in 1996, was community discussion and user-contributed content. Says Anderson: "Ultimately, the publishing system will be made available to anyone who wants to start a hyper-local news and advertising site. This all-in-one solution will encourage greater citizen journalism."

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Project Team

Richard Anderson

Richard M. Anderson is president and owner of VillageSoup Inc., a company that provides places for residents to learn, share and shop in the neighborhoods, villages or towns in which they reside. Before establishing VillageSoup, he spent five years teaching and 29 years developing and publishing elementary and high school textbooks. He was co-founder and eventual sole owner of Ligature Inc., a textbook production company. Anderson is an active community member who chairs and serves on various nonprofit organization boards. He and his wife Sandy live in Camden, Maine, as do two of their three children and families. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Northern Iowa and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Iowa.

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