Nieman Journalism Lab

The Nieman Journalism Lab continues to publish one of the most popular websites about journalism. In November 2011, barely three years after launch, we served up our 5,000,000th page to readers. As of mid-November, visits to were up 64 percent over the same span in 2010 — this at a time when some other journalism sites were seeing reduced traffic. In the past 12 months, the Lab has published 866 articles from over 40 different authors.

Our primary Twitter account, @niemanlab, now has over 66,000 followers, up from 35,000 a year ago. The Lab is also a major force in social media. Our staff, including Megan Garber, Justin Ellis and Andrew Phelps, curates the most important news in the evolution of journalism and shares it through social media, leading to hundreds of daily retweets and putting our work in front of tens of thousands of people every day.

That work continues our efforts to explore what the future of journalism will look like: what business models might support it, what new tools journalists might use to do better work, how news consumption is changing, and how the best values of traditional journalism and the Internet might combine to create better work going forward.

To that end, we launched a number of new projects this year. First, we redesigned our site in August, creating a cleaner, more modern look for articles and a front page that allowed us to better promote our best work.

Second, in May, we launched Encyclo, our encyclopedia of the future of news. Supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation, Encyclo is a contextual database of the most important players in journalism’s evolution — the traditional news organizations, online upstarts, nonprofits, and tech companies who are influencing the future. Each entry features a regularly updated introductory essay on why the subject is important to the future of news, a curated list of important links from around the Web, and links to the best coverage of the subject. Encyclo features over 200 entries and has added depth to our coverage as a centralized resource.

Finally, this summer, we launched Fuego — we like our projects to end with “O,” apparently — our first Web app. (We launched our first iPhone app last year.) Fuego is a solution to a common problem: There’s too much news every day to sort through. Social media tools can accelerate the problem by providing an undifferentiated stream of links. Fuego tames that by algorithmically sorting through tweets about the future of news to determine what stories the most influential people are talking about most and repackaging those in a quickly skimmable package. It’s been a big help to both our staff and our readers in sifting through information overload.

We have big ideas in mind for 2012, and I hope to report back to you in a year with more tales of new projects, bigger audiences, and high-quality work.

Joshua Benton
Director, Nieman Journalism Lab
2008 Nieman Fellow