Open source and journalism: Toward new frameworks for imagining news innovation

Seth C. Lewis, Nikki Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Journalists and technologists increasingly are organizing and collaborating, both formally and informally, across major news organizations and via grassroots networks on an international scale. This intersection of so-called 'hacks and hackers' carries with it a shared interest in finding technological solutions for news, particularly through open-source software programming. This article critically evaluates the phenomenon of open source in journalism, offering a theoretical intervention for understanding this phenomenon and its potential implications for newswork. Building on the literature from computer science and journalism, we explore the concept of open source as both a structural framework of distributed development and a cultural framework of pro-social hacker ethics. We identify four values of open-source culture that connect with and depart from journalism-transparency, tinkering, iteration, and participation-and assess their opportunities for rethinking journalism innovation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-619
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • computational journalism
  • data
  • hackers
  • innovation
  • journalism studies
  • online journalism
  • open source
  • participation
  • software development
  • transparency

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