'NYT,' 'WaPo' Partner With Mozilla To Build Open-Source Content Publishing Platform

The New York Times and The Washington Post have teamed with Mozilla to develop a content management platform that will allow them to better manage online comments and contributions from readers.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, an organization that gives funding to promote journalism innovation, will support the open source project through a $3.89 million grant.

It will take about two years to complete the basic project that will eventually allow third-party companies to build features and services on top. The goal is to make the platform easy to install and help publishers manage a community of readers.

Greg Barber, director of digital news projects and the project lead at The Washington Post, hopes the project will evolve as needs or publishers change.

The platform -- built on open-source technology -- will accept, store, moderate and display reader contributions from videos and images to comments and blog posts. "Readers could take an existing story from a reporter and pivot it in another direction," Barber said. "Other sites have experimented with annotations. We want publishers to have an option to display user contributions in whatever way it works for them."

Project leads from The Washington Post and The New York Times initially sat down in November to talk about processes. It emerged from social conversations between editors on the challenges they face with reader contributions. Shortly after, Dan Sinker, head of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews initiative, stepped in to financially contribute to the collaborative research and the project.

The publishers will tap inside talent to develop the platform. Along with Barber and Sinker, The Washington Post principal architect Greg Franczyk, The New York Times editor of interactive news Marc Lavalee and The New York Times deputy editor Sasha Koren will spearhead the project.

It's not clear whether standards will emerge from the project. Barber said the group is at a stage when anything is possible. "We will work out some of the details as we go," he said, and expects that grant will cover the bulk of the work.

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