Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


The Ben Franklin Project is a Publishing Revolution!

The Ben Franklin Project is a brainchild of the Journal Register Company, a publishing 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.

Essentially the Ben Franklin Project is an effort to produce their entire news products using only available free resources on the internet…They have succeeded!…Damn, what an achievement! I knew something like this was probably possible for individuals on a small basis, but on this large of scale is mind-boggling to me! This validates my beliefs in the power of the internet…

This press release is from

YARDLEY, PA, Jul 04, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Journal Register Company, a leading local news and information company, declared its independence from proprietary publishing systems this weekend by producing the Company’s 18 daily websites and newspapers using only free web-based tools.

“In the process, we have declared our independence from not only old proprietary systems but the old way of thinking as well and opened up new opportunities for this Company to grow and continue its mission of providing compelling journalism to the communities we serve,” Chief Executive Officer John Paton said.

The Company’s Ben Franklin Project, which started in April as an experiment to publish a daily and a weekly using free web tools within a 30-day window, expanded to encompass all of Journal Register’s daily operations following the success of the initial project. The Company celebrated this achievement on July 4.

The Ben Franklin Project not only proves that websites and newspapers can be freed from the restraints of legacy, proprietary publishing systems, but also heralds the potential of an open and transparent newsgathering process. The Project allowed audience members to help shape editorial story budgets through crowd sourcing. Stories ranged from an in-depth look at property taxes and community revitalization projects to reports on childhood obesity.

“These are everyday issues that impact the health — physical and fiscal — of our readers,” said Jon Cooper, Vice President of Content. “The Ben Franklin Project has renewed the focus on stories that impact the communities we serve because the ideas for those stories come from the communities we serve.”

The Company’s newsrooms were not the only focus of the Ben Franklin Project. From advertising ordering, to print and digital ad design, to finance, free web-based tools were utilized throughout the production process. Employees throughout Journal Register participated in collaborative conference calls and web-based seminars as part of a peer-to-peer training program to learn the software and tools compiled from submissions of project observers from across the globe.

“The collaborative nature of the Ben Franklin Project has provided opportunities for innovation and created an environment where the best ideas will win out. Journal Register’s employees have developed new low-cost solutions to long-standing, legacy issues,” said Mr. Cooper. These include using free, open-source desktop publishing tools and combining software programs that could serve as models for future development of billing and ad tracking interfaces.

The Company will continue to expand on this ground-breaking experiment and will continue to share — through blogs and social media — lessons learned from the Ben Franklin Project with others in the industry.

For more information visit the company website at

SOURCE: Journal Register Company

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