The Coral Project: Cultivating a News Outlet and Commenter Correlation

Just as coral reefs protect the shores and species of an ocean, the Coral Project will soon cultivate and protect commentary in online journalism.Coral Project Image 1The Coral Project is a partnership between the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Knight Foundation, and the Mozilla Foundation that seeks to revive online community involvement around news organizations. The Coral Project’s first product is a tool to help news outlets “listen” to their commenters. Through data collection and analysis, the open-source software is projected to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Quantify good and bad commenters
  • Measure the number of repeat commenters
  • Identify possible commenters committed to helping with future stories
  • Tailor the tool to the needs of each publisher and organization

These benchmarks will help news outlets evaluate their communities and stories while further propelling readers into the journalism process.

The software is set to test its listening skills in 2016 with multiple publishers and news organizations. The Coral Project’s community leader, Sydette Harry, describes what their tool means for journalism and these news outlets: “It means connected, proven users whose behavior over time shows their desire to be involved. These are your biggest fans, who will bring you the biggest return in exchange for feeling acknowledged, feeling heard. Worthwhile communities are worth the investment.” Journalism is no longer just about the story – it’s also about what the readers bring to the story.

Coral Project Image 2More than ever before, journalism will practice two-way communication. The New York Times community editor, Bassey Etim, underpinned this evolution at the Computation + Journalism Symposium when he said, “We have to treat comments as content.” A news outlet’s use of the Coral Project listening software will help ensure the acknowledgement of comments, the development of an organization’s community, and the submergence of participating audiences into a better conversation.

Isn’t it conversation that builds our communities, our content, and our news? Let’s improve and protect this interaction with the coral of online journalism and commenting – listening.

Source Published: October 2, 2015


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