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Globe joins in online news project

By Megan Woolhouse
Globe Staff / June 17, 2010

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The Knight Foundation awarded $458,625 to be shared by The Boston Globe, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, and New York software nonprofit OpenPlans to kick off a pilot project allowing readers to obtain more news and information about where they live, sometimes down to the neighborhood or block.

The announcement of the award will be made today at the Future of News and Civic Media Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Globe will work with OpenPlans, a software firm in New York, to deliver more local news and information through the Your Town portal on Boston.com.

By entering an address, a reader can view newspaper stories featuring the neighborhood and databases of information downloaded from municipal sources. For example, the program has the potential to allow users to learn that a licensing hearing has been scheduled for a new restaurant in their neighborhood, or the ability to view block-by-block crime reports.

Officials said the project will take eight months and be available by early 2011.

Under the grant, OpenPlans will also spread the innovations it develops, bringing the concept to other newspaper websites.

Eric Newton, vice president of journalism for the Knight Foundation, said the idea is to use “the power of the digital age to help news organizations,’’ as print subscriptions decline and a growing number of readers find their news online.

“The news organizations that are interested in continuing to use all the tools at their disposal, including these new digital tools, are positioning themselves better for the future,’’ he said.