When MediaBugs.org went live earlier this year it explicitly served only the San Francisco Bay Area community. This was partly because we wanted to test our model and our technology out in a manageable area, and also because our Knight Foundation funders emphasized serving specific geographical communities.
This worked out well for us in some ways. We got to introduce and refine our idea in a place where we could meet in person with a lot of newsroom managers and present the project at small meetings and face-to-face gatherings.
But it was also limiting. I found that a lot of the exchanges I had with people once I explained MediaBugs to them went something like this. My listener would say, “What a great idea! You know, just the other day I saw this really unfortunate error in the X News about Y” — where both X and Y lie outside the Bay Area. And I’d have to say, “That’s really interesting, but unfortunately we are only covering the Bay Area right now.” Both of us would look glum and the conversation would move on.
Now, instead, we can say: Go for it — file that bug!
We’re excited to announce that, as of today, MediaBugs is a nationwide service. Wherever you are in the U.S., and wherever in the country you find a media organization that you think has made a correctable error, MediaBugs is now available for you to use to try to get those errors corrected. You file an error report; we’ll make sure the media outlet knows about it, and try to get someone to respond.
We’ve also made a bunch of serious improvements to the MediaBugs site and service. We’re incorporating a lot more data about each news organization in our database and presenting it in a new format. Check out the Browse by Media Outlet page to see more:
Our Browse Bugs feature now highlights a map to group media outlets and error reports by region. The map pops up when you roll over the “Browse bugs” link on the navigation menu, along with a complete key to our status icons:
There’s also a nifty new bookmarklet that you can install in most browsers, so you’re never more than a click away from filing an error report (prepopulated with the headline and URL of the page you’re reading):
(This one’s just a picture of the real button, which sits on top of every MediaBugs page, and which you can drag onto your browser toolbar.)
We’ve got all sorts of other stuff in the pipeline over the next few weeks to make MediaBugs a more useful and usable service. Give it a whirl if you haven’t already, and help us fix the news.
We’ve got more details over at the MediaBugs Blog.