KNC12 DATA | METANEWS: Story as data to metastory | Knight News Challenge 2012

One of my entries for the Knight News Challenge: Data.

METANEWS: Story as data to metastory

1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
Metanews is big-data mining tool that parses existing news to discover data-points that reveal deeper stories.

2. How will your project make data more useful? [50 words]
News organizations possess gigantic troves of data that sit idle — and largely forgotten — unless topical new or breaking stories require historical context. It’s the journalism equivalent of dead inventory. Metanews turns that old news into a live asset that can generate new stories.

3. How is your project different from what already exists? [30 words]
Tools and projects to mine data, parse data, and reveal insights exist. None seen solve this problem in journalism since first investigating the project in 1999.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]
Metanews will work for three reasons:
1. For the first time, news organizations’ stories widely exist in a structured or semi-structured digital form. That eliminates a once cost-prohibitive and intensive effort.
2. Even a few years ago, the technology to try to solve this complex problem didn’t exist in an affordable form. It requires processing power that would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It is now available for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and falling.
3. Metanews’ project leader, advisors and technical partners have the diverse experience and skills in journalism, data, visualization, design, software and finance to solve the problem.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder,


  • K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group
  • M. Saniga, CA: President and co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.
  • G. Szeto: Software interface designer/strategist for financial and geopolitical risk intelligence sectors, Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
Metanews has been newly designed and modeled a paper-prototype in 2012, following an early attempt to solve this problem over a decade ago. The project is now recursively refining the model and building a team to create a proof-of-concept prototype.

7. How would you use News Challenge funds? [50 words]
Funds would primarily be used for two functions and support of the same:
1. Gaining access to large-scale computing resources needed.
2. Compensating skilled workers to implement it.
By far, the substantive portion of funds would be applied to resources.

8. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]
Metanews will employ university resources to which it has access, seek sales and/or funding from news organizations, enlist assistance from the open source development community, and seek angel and/or venture capital investment, and grant funding.

Requested amount: $375,000
Expected number of months to complete project: 18
Total Project Cost: $1.2 million
Name: Saleem Khan
Twitter: @saleemkhan
Email address [optional]:
Organization: Technovica
City: Toronto
Country: Canada
How did you learn about the contest? Following and participating in the Knight News Challenge for years.

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