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Meet Sourcefabric at News Impact Summit Prague

The News Impact Summit is coming to Prague on 14 October, follow it live on Live Blog | Photo: EJC
The News Impact Summit is coming to Prague on 14 October, follow it live on Live Blog | Photo: EJC

As a global organisation, Sourcefabric has worked abroad more than in the Czech Republic, even though our headquarters are in Prague. But we’re always looking for ways to cooperate more successfully with Czech news organisations.

It is a great opportunity for everyone working in the media and tech sectors in the Czech Republic that the European Journalism Center and the Google News Lab have brought to Prague the News Impact Summit. And we are proudly cooperating in organising this summit as a strategic partner.

Maybe more than ever, the Czech media market is in need of technological innovation. New media projects are springing up as a response to the heavy-handed and not necessarily independent news produced by the oldest and largest media houses. These news startups are bringing along interesting ideas, something we’ve long worked toward - in fact, our vision has always been to provide the tools to let anyone create the New York Times in their garage or living room.

Bringing about the open source revolution

As a software development organisation, we work with technology. We make the tools that make the news. For us, it has been an interesting challenge to help bring the open source perspective into the debate between dedicated tech organisations and news people in the Czech Republic; we see that proprietary technologies seem to be the preferred choice here.  

Sourcefabric is dedicated to open source innovation in newsrooms, newsroom workflow, publishing strategies, and even news organisations’ business models. We meet with news organisations on a daily basis and discuss with them their publishing and economic strategies vis–à–vis the current media market. We have learned that all aspects of news organisations’ existence need to be planned jointly and that any technological transition must be a part of these strategic planning processes from the beginning.

Superdesk in the newsroom of Australian Associated Press

Superdesk in the newsroom of Australian Associated Press

It is impossible today to separate business plans from editorial plans, and it is also impossible to execute these plans while on outdated and inflexible technology. Or to separate your publishing channels from your newsroom workflow. Choosing an open source technological solution can provide an added benefit to your plans: partnerships can be established to co-develop and co-finance the development of tailored solutions. This is not only cost-effective, but it also helps to concentrate innovation from multiple sources and therefore result in more advanced solutions.

We see opportunity in times of crisis

A lot of doom and gloom has been spelled out about the fate of the news business. Nevertheless, we tend to see the glass half full. With clever newsroom solutions, there are endless opportunities for news delivery. The economic pressure on news business can as a byproduct result in strong innovation. Innovation today does not necessarily mean changing your CMS every year, but rather introducing smart future-proof modular solutions using open source solutions and APIs.

Open source enables a group of stakeholders to join together to create customised technology that can be shared by a larger community of users, and lets them do more with their limited budgets. APIs allow you to do a number of things easier such as create new products, support new devices, create partnerships, quickly adapt to new potential distribution channels and lower the cost of experimentation.

The unprecedented access to data on the internet is another interesting challenge as well as opportunity for news organisations. The approach to content creation by structured journalism and data journalism is a useful new concept because it enables legacy news organisations to step away from the paradigm of providing “single-use” stories. Digital news publishers born during the digital age (think VOX, Buzzfeed) have already built custom CMSs that store their data in a way that supports simple content re-use, and ProPublica is having early success selling the datasets it compiles during its investigations. You can gain a lot in your organisation by applying this approach and rather than recycling old stories, you should see it as adding depth to new ones. To apply this method though, the buzzword in your newsroom needs to be metadata. Once again, you need to think early on of the relevant technological tools to accommodate your work with metadata.

The Czech Republic is not a hotbed of technology talk among media watchers. Media monitors and experts in the Czech Republic (and similarly in Poland, Slovakia or Hungary) mostly focus on strategic moves in major media houses and public broadcasters.

Editorial independence, news verification and other burning issues ignited by the political and economic situation in the region are also frequently discussed. But it is in the realm of newsroom technologies where you can start an economically successful and independent news operation next to the multi-billionaire-owned media and to provide reliable access to independent news, and that’s needed more now than ever.

So please join us at Sourcefabric, the European Journalism Centre and the Google News Lab in Prague for the News Impact Summit, a dedicated space for media technologies and innovation on 14 October 2016. We’re very much looking forward to the conversation!

The event is unfortunately already sold out, but no panic. Our team will cover the workshops, panels and discussions live on Live Blog. Tune in at 9.30am CEST on 14 October to follow all the updates and find out more about innovation and journalism.