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14 March 2011, 10:45

Open source news publishing platform gets $975,000 grant

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The Knight Foundation has given a $975,000 grant to The Texas Tribune and The Bay Citizen, both non-profit news organisations, to develop a free and open source publishing platform for other online news organisations. Online local news is a growing sector in the United States and the Foundation wants to enable local news organisations to engage with readers more and manage content easily while being able to raise revenue. The Knight Foundation is dedicated to funding local news and journalism in the digital age.

The CMS software is called Armstrong and the in development code is available on the Texas Tribune's GitHub site. Written in Python and based on the Django framework, Armstrong is designed with a newsroom's workflow and publishing needs in mind. Readers will find there are mobile versions for the iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry available, plus it includes social media integration with Facebook and Twitter. For the publisher, Armstrong supports multimedia editorial content, membership management, search engine optimisation and analytics, media management and "engagement tools", such as quizzes, which should help gather and retain readers. It also has integration with CRM systems such as SugarCRM and Salesforce.

The first release of the code is planned for June this year, but the core of the code has been driving the Tribune and Citizen sites since 2009. As part of the development, The Texas Tribune is hiring web developers and The Bay Citizen is recruiting a senior software engineer to work on the project. The software itself is licensed under a 3 clause BSD-style licence.


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