In Fall Quarter of 2008, six Medill students in a class I co-directed with Rich Gordon built a prototype for new ways of commenting on news stories called News Mixer. Working with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, a newspaper in eastern Iowa, the team spent 11 weeks conceiving, designing and building open source tools to improve online dialogue.
The final product was built in the open-source web framework Django, uses Facebook Connect for registration and is available on Google Code for your use. The project went on to win an award from AEJMC’s 2008 Best of the Web and be a finalist for a 2008 ONA award. The two journalists-coders, Brian Boyer and Ryan Mark have gone on to found the Chicago Tribune’s News Application Team.