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Introducing Live Coverage Ecosystem, funded by Google

The Digital News Initiative (DNI) is “a collaboration between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high quality journalism and encourage a more sustainable news ecosystem through technology and innovation.”
The Digital News Initiative (DNI) is “a collaboration between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high quality journalism and encourage a more sustainable news ecosystem through technology and innovation.”

Many European news agencies have an underdeveloped offering when it comes to live coverage and the barriers for entry for news media to bring real-time coverage and live blogging to their websites are high. At the same time, live coverage provision from some commercial companies has become unaffordable for many news publishers who are charged by the number of viewers. Inability to monetize live coverage provision, among other things, has been a major obstacle for deployment of live coverage by both agencies and their clients.

To overcome these obstacles and bring innovation to the live reporting market, we are excited to introduce our new project, Live Coverage Ecosystem, built on Superdesk’s live blogging application, Live Blog. This project will be done in collaboration with two major European news agencies.

Live Coverage Ecosystem (LCE) is made possible through a grant from the brand-new Google Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund, bringing projects such as LCE from the drawing board into the news market. The LCE project will allow syndication of resources between news agencies and their clients and will lower the entry barrier for smaller publishers (and a larger number of them). Joining LCE, they can include live coverage at a significantly lower cost.

About Google DNI

Firstly, for those not familiar, the Google Digital News Initiative (DNI) is “a collaboration between Google and news publishers in Europe to support aim support high quality journalism and encourage a more sustainable news ecosystem through technology and innovation.” Through this initiative, Google offers an Innovation Fund that aims to financially support and stimulate innovation in digital news journalism over the next three years.

The call for applicants included, among other things, “nonprofit organisations and individuals… whose projects focus on encouraging a more sustainable news ecosystem.” This call felt like it was written directly for us and fit what we do here at Sourcefabric to a tee. We have a lot of inspiring and innovative ideas about what our software can do for the news industry; this funding from Google will allow us to bring a couple of these eagerly anticipated ideas to fruition.

What we will do with the funding

To get to that, we need to take a step back to a blog post we wrote a few months ago that explains exactly how Superdesk extends beyond itself to create an “ecosystem of newsrooms tools”. We are building a number of journalistic applications on top of the Superdesk core. Among them are a web publishing system, an image verification tool and Live Blog.

Over the past few years, Live Blog has transformed from a promising opportunity, to a robust and clean live blogging tool for newsrooms which is being used by newsrooms across the world, from Nepal to Finland. We want to take it one step further with the introduction of some much-needed features that will address key challenges regarding live coverage in digital newsrooms.

The LCE project, will try to boost live reporting in news agencies by providing them with a tool to better cover live events, a way to share resources with other news agencies, the ability to monetize their live reporting and a way to integrate all of this seamlessly with their editorial systems.

In an effort to improve syndication mechanisms for real-time coverage, we will be including a two-way syndication mechanism that will enable network participants to send their coverage to others in the network, while these same organisations can also put out their own calls for live coverage.

Another common issue with live reporting is the inability to monetize the coverage. That’s why we plan to work on private event coverage, native advertising, content marketing streams and to place specific effort on making it easier to insert relevant ads into real-time coverage streams.

While all of these features are great, they mean little if the software can’t be integrated with a newsroom’s existing CMS or tools. We will be putting a lot of work into integration efforts to make Live Blog work not only with existing tools, but also to enable the ingest of news agency feeds and facilitate output capabilities to other channels and networks.

Because this project is based on the syndication of resources between news agencies and their clients and will be built on top of our existing free and open source platform, this tool will now reach a wider user base that includes small and independent platforms. This project will significantly lower the barriers to entry for real-time coverage and live blogging.

This project will not only make Live Blog better for the initial agencies participating in this project, but also to a significantly expanded user base. Therein lies the true beauty of open source: When something benefits one, it benefits all.

While this funding is incredibly important for our project, it is also an affirmation of and testament to the efforts we are putting forth to make positive changes in the news industry. You can follow our progress on our Superdesk blog, or sign up for our newsletter to get updates sent directly to your inbox.

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