To help struggling news organizations in areas that have a history of media censorship, the Prague-based non-profit Sourcefabric has developed a free and open source CMS, Newscoop. The organization recently released version 4.1, which features fast search functionality, and was developed in partnership with independent news organizations in the highly challenging media environment of Georgia. 

In fact, Sourcefabric gave version 4.1 the codename of “Sakartvelo,” which is Georgia’s name for itself. The country ranks 105th out of 179 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, and there are few outlets there that are not controlled by the government or its allies. In its announcement of version 4.1, Sourcefabric cited four Georgian independent news sites which helped develop Newscoop 4.1.

Airtime, Booktype

Founded in 1999 as the new media arm of the Media Development Loan Fund, a mission-driven investment fund for independent news outlets, Sourcefabric spun off as an autonomous organization in 2010 to focus on open source software for news and media.

Sourcefabric’s other products include open source radio automation software Airtime, open source publishing platform Booktype and, sometime this year, a complete open source digital workflow solution for newsrooms called Superdesk.

In addition to the Georgian news sites, Newscoop is also being used by news organizations in Guatemala, Yemen and elsewhere.

Newscoop's geolocation tools allow journalists to map news events, such as in Georgia.

Integration with Solr

The enhanced search functionality in 4.1 is made possible by an integration with Solr, an open source search project out of the Apache Lucene effort, and it is designed to facilitate the ability of site visitors to find relevant content on the news site or in connected blogs. Solr features full-text search, hit highlighting, database integration, auto-suggestion and advanced ranking.

Other additions in 4.1 include a new article-rating feature and the ability for journalists or editors to log on with Facebook credentials. 

Newscoop offers drag-and-drop front page management, citizen journalist tools, the ability to structure content by issues or article types, subscription management and HTML5-compatible news templates that can be targeted for mobile devices.

Journalists can also attach one or more geolocations to an article, which can then be overlaid onto a map from a supported service, such as Google Maps, Mapquest Open and OpenStreetMap. Community tools allow readers to offer feedback, including private feedback with files or photos, to an article's author.