Newspaper chain Journal Register Company announces move to open source

The open source movement isn’t exactly won, but, in a surprise, a newspaper giant from the region just went that way. The Journal Register Company, based in Yardley, Bucks County and once called among the 10 worst managed companies in the country, announced on July 4th that its 18 daily websites and newspapers were published […]

The open source movement isn’t exactly won, but, in a surprise, a newspaper giant from the region just went that way.
The Journal Register Company, based in Yardley, Bucks County and once called among the 10 worst managed companies in the country, announced on July 4th that its 18 daily websites and newspapers were published that weekend using free tools and “crowdsourced journalism.”
“Does this mean that [moving forward] all newsrooms will publish using Scribus or will tone all photos using Gimp? No, but if an operation — part Journal Register or an outside company — wanted to, they could,” the press release read. “The tools we discovered, trained on and used as part of the Ben Franklin Project could allow a news organization to throw away their old methods and start anew.”

Dubbed the Ben Franklin Project, started with conversations in April, the release says, and moved from an experiment to a project aimed at reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The project will move forward to implementing more of those open source strategies more regularly.
Among its 170 print titles, JRC boasts ownership of 18 daily newspapers, including its signature New Haven Register in Connecticut and a smattering of dailies in the Philadelphia suburbs from The Daily Local News of West Chester, The Mercury of Pottstown, the Delaware County Times and the Trentonian of Trenton, N.J. in addition to others.
The project also involves a movement to more open journalism processes, which happened for stories last weekend across JRC properties.
The Delaware County Times, for example, “tackled property taxes and asked residents to bring in their bills so the staff could see what people are paying and what the community is getting back for those payments.”
The official announcement from July 4th reads with a certain zeal one might not expect from a stodgy company’s press release, saying today “marks not only Journal Register Company’s independence from the costly proprietary systems that have long restricted newspapers and news companies alike. Today also marks the start of a revolution. Today marks the beginning of a new path for media companies whose employees are willing to shape their own future.”

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