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Boston Globe, MIT join in media project

The Boston Globe and the MIT Center for Civic Media are collaborating to bring media experiments from the university to the audience of the Globe’s websites, Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com.

Scheduled to launch this fall, the project is funded with $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant will fund two positions at the Globe for a year: a university outreach coordinator and a creative technologist. Four Civic Media research fellowships will also be available in the Globe Lab, an innovation center housed at the Globe’s headquarters in Dorchester.

The Globe/MIT collaboration hopes to become a model for how the news organization could work with other universities in the Boston area. Last year, the Knight Foundation funded a similar program in Philadelphia.


“The collaboration with MIT is an important, exciting step forward, but over time we envision a broad array of relationships with universities,” said Martin Baron, editor of the Globe.

The collaboration will be overseen by Jeff Moriarty, vice president of digital initiatives at the Globe; Chris Marstall, creative technologist for the Globe; and MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media.

Said Moriarty: “This is a unique opportunity to innovate and bring things to life on our sites.”

The Center for Civic Media is a joint effort between the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. It is made possible by funding from the Knight Foundation. The center invents technologies that support and foster civic media and political action, it studies these technologies, and it coordinates community-based projects.

The collaboration will seek to meld the thinking about the future of media at MIT with the large digital audience that visits Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com every day for news, features, community conversations, and accountability journalism. The two sites have a combined audience of over 7 million unique users a month.


“Traditional organizations can learn from start-ups, but the start-ups can also benefit from exposure to real-world media culture and the kind of audience that the Globe has,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at the Knight Foundation. “We’re excited to see what these two creative organizations develop together.”

D.C. Denison can be reached at denison@globe.com.