SOURCE: Journal Register Company

Journal Register Company

May 20, 2010 10:15 ET

Journal Register Company's Ben Franklin Project a Success

Company Produces Websites and Newspapers Using Only Free Web-Based Tools

YARDLEY, PA--(Marketwire - May 20, 2010) -  In a groundbreaking experiment, the Journal Register Company, a leading local news and information company, this week successfully produced two websites and newspapers -- one daily and one weekly -- using only free web-based tools and bypassing the Company's legacy, proprietary systems.

The Company's Ben Franklin Project, announced April 21 by Chief Executive Officer John Paton, challenged the legacy newsgathering process and proprietary computer system model -- while focusing on the Company's Digital First model. The websites and newspapers involved in the project were produced -- from story assignment and advertising design through publication -- utilizing free tools that are commonly available online. The employees were given 30 days to meet that challenge and this week they succeeded.

The News-Herald in Lake County, Ohio and the Perkasie News-Herald in Perkasie, Pennsylvania solicited story ideas and contributions through social media tools including Facebook and Twitter. Residents of Lake County shared their views on the county's most dangerous roadway intersections and the newsroom staff compared those submissions with data from police reports. The audience, using Journal Register Company's community portal partner SeeClickFix, also reported blighted properties -- ranging from fields in need of mowing to a house that has been under construction for 10 years -- that were included in newsroom reports. Residents in Perkasie submitted questions for local officials as part of reports on the local pay-as-you-throw trash system and the community's electric supplier contract.

"This is a groundbreaking experiment for our Company and our industry," Mr. Paton said. "We have taught ourselves the power of open source journalism by involving our communities and we have showed the industry a way to a much more effective business model by bypassing costly legacy media proprietary systems and harnessing the power of the web."

The Ben Franklin Project extended beyond crowdsourced journalism as advertising designers used free web-based tools to design online and print advertisements and copy editors and designers utilized a free online desktop publishing system. The tools used in the Ben Franklin Project included many submitted from project observers from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as Europe.

"The Ben Franklin Project is not over. Journal Register will continue to apply the lessons learned through open source reporting as part of our commitment to quality local journalism," said Jon Cooper, Vice President of Content. "The Company's Digital First model provides ever-growing opportunities for community collaboration. In the spirit of The Ben Franklin Project, the Company will continue to update The Ben Franklin project blog to provide a resource for the industry and allow others to experiment."

About Journal Register Company

Journal Register Company is a leader in local news and information serving 992 communities in 10 states. The Company's 324 multi-platform products reach an audience of nearly 14 million people each month. For more information visit the company website at www.JournalRegister.com.