Let’s chat about editorial tools

Project Facet Logo

This post was originally published on Medium on Sept. 21, 2015.

Facet is an open source project to help newsrooms strategically plan content across publishing platforms. The idea is to improve how we manage planning, assigning, and editing content no matter where it’s going to be published. Facet is about fostering collaboration in the newsrooms that need it most by creating networks to share the editorial process with, both in and outside of an organization as well as discovering new partners to collaborate with.

Newsrooms are shrinking. Local news is getting crushed by larger organizations with bigger budgets and farther reach. Tools are varied and inconsistent from newsroom to newsroom. Budgets are stretched and dollars for technology are hard to come by. You know this song and dance. It’s the subject of every journalism newsletter or think piece on our industry.

Project Facet is an open source project designed to help smaller newsrooms overcome the technology gap and harness software to help streamline the editorial process. Let’s use technology to reallocate the time we spend managing all the different programs and procedures into working on the job we want to be doing — reporting the news and telling people’s stories.

The work we do as journalists and storytellers is a multifaceted endeavor with many angles to account for during the process.

The goals behind Facet are twofold:

Let’s simplify how many tools it takes to assign, create and edit all the versions of a story we need for different platforms

There’s a common theme in user research about what’s flawed with the systems many newsrooms are currently using.

  • Too many logins
  • Too many emails
  • Too many meetings
  • Too many details kept in too many different places

Facet is a dashboard where organizations can track and develop story ideas, assign teams, and write and edit together. Parts of a series are linked together and platform versions are bundled for easy coordination and scheduling.

Let’s make it easy to bring collaborative partners in on the process and share the final result

In larger newsrooms, it’s easy for teams to be isolated by platform and unable to easily collaborate. In many small newsrooms, collaboration is key for covering the stories important to audiences. Whether it’s to take advantage of expertise, geography or to increase reach, partnerships are beneficial and essential.

But coordinating such partnerships can be hard. It’s time consuming and notoriously difficult to schedule meetings involving the whole team. Not to mention that each newsroom is often using their own unique system of Google Docs, emails, calendars or other third party services to coordinate their editorial process. Trying to adopt a new system with each partnership isn’t feasible nor practical.

Collaboration should make our jobs easier, not harder.

What if you could easily grant access to any story or series to a partner or network of partners? In Facet, users will be able to connect with partners on the site and choose access levels for collaboration in the editorial process. Partners and teams will be able to access platform versions of the story and work together to make the most of expertise on a given story or subject.

What Happens Next

I’m thrilled to be working on such an exciting project. Facet is situated right at the fascinating intersection of journalism, technology and problem solving. From now on, I’ll be posting updates on the progress of Project Facet, sharing mock-ups, prototypes and eventually early working versions.

What I want to build is not just a set of tools to help journalists, but the right set of tools.

If you want to stay in the loop on such updates, please sign up for the newsletter.

If you want to directly help with the project, you can start by helping me collect user data by filling out this survey and passing it on to your colleagues and other newsrooms.

I look forward to sharing this process with you.

If you want to connect with me, you can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Project Facet is possible through the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a grant from the Knight Prototype Fund.

Special thanks to Lynne Snifka and Kristen McClure for edits and feedback and to Jo Ellen Kaiser and JulieAnn McKellog for the helpful conversations and feedback.

Note on republished posts: In an effort to consolidate and preserve my online work, I'm re-publishing my own writing on this site. Posts will stay live and archived on their original sites for the sake of preserving links (for as long as those sites are still live). Content produced for other publications will remain unique to those publications, but I will include links on my work page.