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Knight grant supports DocumentCloud improvements, sustainability

DocumentCloud, a free, open source tool used by hundreds of newsrooms to analyze and publish documents, will improve its offerings and develop a plan toward sustainability with $1.4 million in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The two-year support will focus on strengthening the future of DocumentCloud and introducing enhancements and features that will make the popular platform faster, easier to use and more robust.

DocumentCloud was created with the support of a Knight News Challenge Grant in 2009 and became a project of the Investigative Reporters and Editors in 2011. It now hosts more than 1 million documents that have been uploaded, analyzed, annotated and published by journalists to better inform their audiences and make their own work more transparent. Material available on has received more than 200 million hits, and has been used for stories as high profile as the release of the Snowden documents, which were presented to the public by The Washington Post and The Guardian via the platform.

“DocumentCloud has proven itself as an essential tool for in-depth, quality journalism—allowing reporters to comb through public documents in an efficient, collaborative and exhaustive manner,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. “This next phase of its growth will help it become even more effective and ensure its future as standard in newsrooms everywhere.”

New funding for DocumentCloud was shaped by a market study designed to look at ways to make the tool better and more sustainable; the study included a survey of user preferences, a review of similar software tools, and consultation with experts. Based on study outcomes, the goal is to keep basic services free, while adding features that users can purchase through subscription services. Knight support will allow the DocumentCloud team to expand, creating the capacity to improve the basic service and add premium features.

Improvements to the tool will make it faster and more user-friendly. Existing archives will be more accessible and documents will be easier to share. DocumentCloud will redesign the platform to manage a larger number of users and future technology needs. A new advisory group of media entrepreneurs will help guide DocumentCloud’s growth.

“Hundreds of newsrooms in the U.S. and around the world rely on DocumentCloud to enhance the impact and credibility of their work, and to empower their audiences to dig into source material on their own,” said Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, which operates the service. “This crucial grant will allow us to both provide better service and build a foundation for DocumentCloud's future.”


About IRE

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country. Programs of IRE include the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting and DocumentCloud.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit



Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, 817-726-1621, 

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677,




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