The pioneering investigative-reporting non-profit ProPublica and The New York Times are seeking $1 million from the Knight Foundation to launch an online repository of primary-source documents. The project could lead to greater information sharing among news organizations and their audience. As they put it in their grant application:
Documents are the foundation of investigative journalism, but today's newsroom is a throwaway culture. Too often, reporters gather reams of information, do their stories, then chuck rich source documents into a dusty corner, never again to see the light of day.
The project, which is called DocumentCloud, would let news organizations upload their materials for public consumption and analysis. ("Readers will also be able to quickly search, annotate and bookmark documents – and for the first time link directly to specific pages or passages.")
The proposal relies on a piece of software called DocViewer, which was developed by the Times' Interactive Newsroom Technologies team. The head of that team, Aron Pilhofer, recently confirmed that the Times will release DocViewer as open source "sometime after the election." Brian Boyer, the blogger who broke that news, said the software was created by the Times for its searchable database of Hillary Clinton's 11,000-page public schedule as first lady, which was a journalistic marvel.