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Please help us fund Citizen Desk — Only 2 weeks left!

@Verdade's community contributes important details to the news organisation. Help us build Citizen Desk, a tool to propel the power of citizen journalism.
@Verdade's community contributes important details to the news organisation. Help us build Citizen Desk, a tool to propel the power of citizen journalism.

We're building a tool that connects newsrooms to citizen journalists and gives editors an easy way to verify reports. But we need your support to do it.

At Sourcefabric, we eat, sleep and breathe open source. Our development is always done in cooperation with a community. Today we're turning to the crowd again, this time to help us secure funding for a tool that helps close the gap between the newsroom and reliable sources.

The background

In 2012, we started working with Mozambique's most-read news source, @Verdade. @Verdade had a community of readers contributing opinions and ideas on a "Mural de Povo" and social media. Now they want to harness the strength of this community to provide better news coverage and more perspectives, and turn readers into citizen journalists.

In collaboration with @Verdade, we pitched our idea to the African News Innovation Challenge — and won. With the prize money, we built Citizen Desk, a digital tool to help editors in the newsroom work with citizen journalists sending reports, tips and content over SMS and social media.

@Verdade deployed Citizen Desk 1.0 in the months leading up to local elections in 2013. With it, @Verdade gathered and published 1,100 reports in 10 days on their election site.

Next steps and much-needed support

The next big challenge for Citizen Desk will be Mozambique's general elections in 2014. For this occasion, Citizen Desk must:

  • be fully mobile, for editors as well as reporters
  • support two-way communication between editors online and reporters on their mobile phones, whether they're iPhones or 10-year-old Nokias
  • let editors assign reports for follow-up and publishing

Here's where you come in

Sourcefabric makes open-source tools, so we're accustomed to community support. This time, however, instead of asking users and developers to troubleshoot software, we're asking for help in securing funding. You can help us pay for Citizen Desk 2.0 in two ways:

  1. Contribute to our project on Indie Voices. We're trying to raise $40,000 here before January 18, and we honestly have a long way to go. This money will help pay one dedicated developer to work on Citizen Desk.
  2. Vote for Citizen Desk 2.0 in the Making All Voices Count Grand Challenge for Development. If we win the £65,000 first prize, we'll spend it on new software features, servers, smart phones and SMS credits for @Verdade's community organisers, who coordinate citizen input and assist with news verification.

The application of Citizen Desk extends far beyond the 2014 elections in Mozambique. Because it's open source, any news organization anywhere can use it to harness and reward citizen reporting.

With Citizen Desk, newsrooms throughout the world can create better engagement, better transparency, and a higher level of trust. Please help us build this tool with your contribution, your vote, or both. And spread the word to your colleagues and friends!

Thank you!