Connecting journalists with sources beyond social networks

By Rachel McAthy


Earlier this month at the Mozilla Festival the Knight Foundation announced the recipients of its prototype fund, which included GroundTruth, a platform which aims to "make journalism more connected" by mapping sources and providing contact via text message.

The project is being led by Andrew Haeg, who co-founded US crowdsourcing platform Public Insight Network in 2003. The platform, which he said is now used by around 80 newsrooms, uses email to reach out to potential sources and ask them to feedback on specific issues.

Haeg told that the growth of the network highlighted "a need for a platform that allowed individual journalists to start building networks of sources around their journalism and to reach out to them in very simple ways via mobile phone".

Working with the World Press Institute, Haeg decided to apply for funding from the Knight Foundation, which will now be used to pull together a team of developers and build a prototype of the platform. It is hoped the first version will be ready to start testing next month.

The idea is that during news events across the world, where journalists need to find sources on the ground, the platform will open up sources to the media via mobile phone who may not be as connected to the social web.

"Maybe they're not sharing on Facebook and Twitter, or maybe they're not sharing that kind of information," Haeg explained. "Maybe they're not even connected to social media at all and plus they might not be part of that journalist's social network.

"I found it's very difficult to connect to people who aren't part of your social network and to make a trusted connection with them.



About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit