How the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Uses DocumentCloud

Every day, new journalism technologies emerge that give journalists better tools to engage readers. One such tool is DocumentCloud, a new tool sponsored by IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors.) In recent news, reporters at Mother Jones used Document Cloud in their article on the Obamacare decision, and reporters at ProPublica used DocumentCloud in the GlaxoSmithKline scandal that was released on DocumentCloud on June 2, and published June 3.

Ebyline spoke with one editor who’s been using DocumentCloud in the newsroom.

“Here at the Journal Sentinel, we’ve used it for a variety of projects. Most recently, I used DocumentCloud to annotate police incident reports to pinpoint examples of misreporting of FBI crime and weapon codes,” said Ben Poston, a Data Editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Poston says that he hasn’t used DocumentCloud to do a lot of textual analysis of documents, but that the ability to annotate, share and build a document gallery has taken stories to the next level.

“I think it helps us be more transparent with readers and also guide them through technical documents,” said Poston. “Before DocumentCloud, we might just link to a PDF of a document, but it could be 100 or more pages, and very few readers are going to take the time to sift through that many pages.”

Poston recommended that journalists can use DocumentCloud to store and organize all of their documents.

“I’m really bad at keeping paper files organized…so uploading docs electronically to the cloud makes more sense and allows easy sharing among reporters here,” he added.

Here’s a video of DocumentCloud lead developer Ted Han explaining the website’s functionality:

Ted Han, DocumentCloud – 2011 Knight News Challenge Winner from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Has your newsroom used DocumentCloud? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know!