NewsCloud is a free, open source platform for building Facebook Connect community applications and web sites.
There are primarily two ways we recommend alternative weeklies use NewsCloud:
1) Use NewsCloud to launch a virtual town hall providing a place for your readers to connect with each other. Add interactive features such as user blogs, photo and video galleries, link sharing and discussion forums to give your readers new ways to interact with each other. NewsCloud even offers a Classifieds and Lending Library which allows readers to share physical goods such as books, DVDs and household items.
NewsCloud's integration with Facebook Connect allows readers to connect with their real names and faces, greatly improving the civility of these sites. Move beyond generic Facebook pages (learn how NewsCloud differs from Facebook pages) and give your readers a community home that they can get truly excited about to share.
2) Use NewsCloud's crowdsourcing features to extend your storytelling, giving readers creative ways to get involved. Move beyond comments. Give your readers creative ways to get involved with and augment your reporting. NewsCloud offers crowdsourcing features such as idea boards, questions and answers, resource directories and even a news predictions game. Set up photo and video galleries, discussion forums and link to user blogs to extend the conversation.
Every NewsCloud feature is tightly integrated into Facebook and Twitter for viral sharing. It also integrates your statistical tracking and advertising engines to allow you to leverage these interactive page views into new sources of revenue. It's also fully optimized for search engines to draw inbound traffic.
The Knight Foundation has generously funded NewsCloud through April 2012. Already as part of this grant, we've got the installation of NewsCloud down to a few easy steps on a Rackspace server that costs less than $45/month.
Check out some of our existing prototype sites. Seattle's The Needle. Minnesota Public Radio's MinnEcon (as Facebook application). Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post (as Facebook application). The Boston Globe's Your Boston (as Facebook application)