Creating Technology for Social Change

Workshopping NewsJack with Press Pass TV

Members of Press Pass TV (Press Pass, and members of the Center for Civic Media met last week for a codesign workshop to explore using NewJack in the Press Pass Respect in Reporting (RIP) campaign that seeks to establish new standards among journalists writing about violence.

Press Pass describes the RIP campaign: “When facts are missed or people are misrepresented, families, neighbors and community spend time and energy needed to grieve and move forward instead fighting to preserve the memories of their loved ones and restore their reputations. And when irrelevant information like addresses and hospitals are reported, innocent lives are put at risk. At Press Pass TV, we believe in the unlimited power of media to awaken individuals, create dialogue across race, religious and ethnic lines and empower communities to shape their own destiny. The Respect in Reporting campaign is an opportunity for news outlets to partner with communities to shape a more just and equitable future for all of the neighborhoods that they serve.”

Press Pass promotes this campaign through public events, organizing among communities that have lost members to violence, and with news reporters. The RIP campaign asks reporters to to pledge to follow guidelines developed by Press Pass together with the families and communities (click to view guidelines: NewsJack ( is a web-based tool that lets you remix the news. You can select any news story on the web and edit the text and images of the story and the content surrounding the story on that web page. Since Dan Schultz and Sasha Costanza-Chock announced it to the Civic Media community and the world wide web on April 24, we’ve seen mostly comical uses of the tool — with people replacing content as satire.

Together with Press Pass, we’re using this tool as a critical analysis tool in teaching about media literacy and giving people a way to engage with the guidelines of the campaign by experimenting with them themselves. In our codesign workshop, we used NewsJack to edit contents of articles about violence reported by Boston news sources and to remake these so they adhere to the RIP guidelines.

The image below is a screen capture from one of the remixed articles. Among changes like eliminating mentions of specific hospitals and addresses, the remixers changed the title of the article. The robbery was known to be marijuana and the remixers explain that many readers may have experience with marijuana sales or sellers, but fewer will have experience with other drugs. Specifying that that this was a marijuana sale allows more people to relate to the people in the article and referring to the robbery generally as a “drug robbery” may create distance and judgment or fear. Click hereto see the full remix (

We changed language and also discovered that the guidelines might possibly require different reporting methods from reporter and not just changes in choices of language. One remixer found that her article already seemed to adhere to the guidelines and noted that this was true of some publications and seemingly less true of others. The act of finding articles and reporters who are already reporting in ways that RIP suggests could lead the campaign to allies in taking the pledge.

We will continue to develop ways that RIP can use NewsJack to give people experience in modeling the pledge guidelines and in analyzing media content.

Related links:
Press Pass TV –
RIP guidelines –
RIP-NewsJack remix –
NewsJack – writeup in Poynter –