SXSW Interactive 2013

Version Controlling the News. How We Can Archive.

In the age of constantly evolving news, newsrooms are confronted by the dilemma of how to archive their content for posterity. This is especially true in the case of breaking news as the stories change rapidly — both when the news media is right (such as the assassination of Osama Bin Laden) and wrong, such as when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was erroneously reported as dead,

One approach was born at a June 2012 weekend hackathon hosted by MIT Media Lab, It basically brings developer's version control, Git, to journalism.

Within its first month, NewsDiffs has since spread across the world — drawing interest and versions from Latin America, Africa and Europe. was the subject of the New York Times public editor's column within its first month of existence.

Created by an MIT grad student and a former New York Times journalist, NewsDiffs provides a case study of how journalism and technology can learn from each other.

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  1. What can news organizations from hackathons and software practices?
  2. What software and coding best practices can be applied to the processes of journalism?
  3. How do newsrooms solve their version control problem of articles as they evolve?
  4. What can journalists and developers learn from each other in accountability?
  5. What are some tips in creating a hackathon project that gains traction?



Eric Price, Co-Creator, MIT

Meta Information:

  • Tags: open source
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Content and Distribution
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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