Nieman News

Five members of the Nieman class of 2013 have received funding through the Knight Prototype Fund to develop two innovative media projects.

The first, Keepr, is an open source data-mining tool designed by 2013 Visiting Fellow Hong Qu to help journalists find credible information and news sources when tracking breaking news stories on Twitter.

Hong, who came to Harvard to develop plans for the app last spring, wrote two related pieces for Nieman Reports during the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects including Twitter, Credibility and The Watertown Manhunt and Social Media and the Boston Bombings. Keepr was put to the test at that time as Hong used it to identify reliable information as events unfolded. On campus, he worked on perfecting an algorithm that can filter thousands of tweets to automatically distill meaningful signals out of noisy chatter.

The second Knight-funded project is !nstant, a mobile app designed to verify and provide context to breaking news to provide a more accurate picture of news stories as they are reported on social media. 2013 Nieman Fellows Borja Echevarría de la Gándara, Ludovic Blecher, Alexandra Garcia and Paula Molina developed the idea in Ethan Zuckerman’s “News and Participatory Media” class at MIT. Their user experience prototype showed what live reporting would have looked like during the sinking of the Titanic.

The Knight Prototype Fund will support a total of 24 new projects, helping innovators explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding. Chris Barr, who leads the Prototype Fund, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Journalism and Media Innovation program, said the fund’s latest iteration “recognizes design as a powerful problem-solving tool that places people at the center of the creative process.”

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