News mixed with Facebook

newsmixerIt’s being called a “game changer” for commenting on the news.  Graduate students at Northwestern’s Medill j-school have developed a Web site that marries news content with a Facebook app to let users have their say about news stories.

News Mixer takes content from the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette and allows users to log in via Facebook Connect and comment in three different ways: by asking a question about the story, posting a “quip” in a sidebar, or writing a letter to the editor.

The project was funded by the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge and it’s the brainchild of Medill professor Rich Gordon, who says his goal was to improve online discussions of the news.

Nobody has been particularly happy with the remarks appearing in comment boxes or thinks they further public discourse. By creating a site with richer opportunities for interactive comments, we hope to improve the quality of online discussion that takes place around local news content.

According to Northwestern, a New York Times editor, Aron Pilhofer, believes News Mixer has a lot of promise for the media industry and says there are “bits and pieces of it I’d like to steal right now.”

As it happens, anyone can “steal” the idea because the software is open-source and available now on the students’ Crunchberry Project blog.

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