Open-Source Publishing Platform to be Developed by The Texas Tribune and The Bay Citizen

AUSTIN, SXSW 2011 – Two leading non-profit news organizations will develop a free, open-source publishing platform to help other online news organizations more easily engage with readers, manage content and raise revenue, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Texas Tribune in Austin and The Bay Citizen in San Francisco, both non-profit online journalism organizations covering regional civic news, will share the $975,000 grant and will co-develop the new open source platform.

Dozens of local online news organizations now exist, many of which launched within the last year.  At the first Knight Foundation gathering of these news start-ups in Austin last spring, organizations revealed their struggles to find a publishing platform that is low-cost to implement, while flexible enough to allow constant innovation in content delivery, audience engagement and fundraising.

The Bay Citizen and The Texas Tribune, both known for quality journalism and strong investment in technology, were passionate about working together to develop an open-source software platform to freely share with the rest of the online news industry.

The grant is Knight Foundation's latest effort to nurture innovation in the media field. Recently, the foundation launched the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern University to speed media innovation in Chicago and beyond, as well as the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Fellowships to open-source solutions to technical problems at news organizations.

“We hope this platform will help other online news start-ups stay technologically nimble and offer them a better opportunity to publish content and engage with their communities,” said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation digital media director.

“Knight Foundation’s generous support of technological innovation creates a bright future for online news organizations,” said The Bay Citizen’s CTO Brian Kelley. “Organizations will no longer be faced with the cost and expense of developing their own publishing platforms from the ground up, or tied to using systems that were not meant for online news.  And, as an open source initiative, this will be a collaborative effort that engages developers, journalists and editors from all over the country to actively participate in ongoing development and enhancement.”

"The technology team at The Texas Tribune has been working hard with the team at The Bay Citizen over the last year to create a single platform for high-functioning, demanding newsrooms,” said Founding CTO of The Texas Tribune Higinio Maycotte.  “We are excited to develop what hopefully becomes a technology ‘blueprint’ for sustainable newsrooms and share it with the rest of the news industry so that online journalism can continue to find its way to readers that seek it." 

The new open-source publishing platform will:

  • Manage an integrated library of text, video and audio files;
  • Maximize search engine optimization by improving the way articles are linked, aggregated and tagged;
  • Better integrate sites with social networks like Facebook and Twitter as well as bloggers; and
  • Offer membership tools and integration with advertising networks to help online news organizations cultivate new revenue streams.

The Bay Citizen and The Texas Tribune are actively seeking partners for the initial release later this year.  To find out more about how to participate or become a partner, please contact:

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About The Bay Citizen

The Bay Citizen is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, member-supported news organization that provides in-depth original reporting on Bay Area issues including public policy, education, the arts and cultural affairs, health and science, the environment, and more. The Bay Citizen’s news can be found online at www.baycitizen.org as well as in print in The New York Times Bay Area report on Fridays and Sundays.

The Bay Citizen launched on May 26, 2010 and in less than eight months, more than one million people had visited BayCitizen.org.  In 2010, The Bay Citizen raised over $15 million in multi-year funding from a a broad array of philanthropists, foundations, corporations, and a membership base of more than 2,150 members and individual contributors.  For more information, please visit www.baycitizen.org.

About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization whose mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on the public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide interest. Based in the Texas capital, the Tribune won two national Edward R. Murrow awards and a General Excellence award from the Online News Association in its first year.

The Texas Tribune was founded in the summer of 2009 by venture capitalist John Thornton, Evan Smith, former editor of Texas Monthly and Ross Ramsey, former editor of Texas Weekly. The Texas Tribune receives over 350,000 monthly unique visitors generating 3 million monthly pageviews and over 100M monthly impressions in 216 countries of its content nationally through syndication of its articles and multimedia.  The Tribune also has 13,100 Facebook fans and 11,000 Twitter followers.  To date, The Texas Tribune has raised $8 million dollars from 2,200 community members, major donors, foundations, corporate sponsors, sale of its news letters and is well on the road to sustainability. 

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 www.knightfoundation.org.