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  • Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Software
Founded 2009
Headquarters Columbia, Mo., USA
Number of employees
Parent Investigative Reporters and Editors

DocumentCloud is an open-source software as a service platform that allows users to upload, analyze, annotate, collaborate on and publish primary source documents. Since its launch in 2009, it has been used primarily by journalists to find information in the documents they gather while reporting and, to improve transparency, publish the documents. As of August 2015, DocumentCloud users had uploaded more than 2 million documents containing 27 million pages.[2] Many of them are accessible via a public search portal.

DocumentCloud’s development has led to the creation of several notable open-source projects, including Backbone.js,[3][4] Jammit and Underscore.js.[5][6] The majority of funding for DocumentCloud has come from grants by the Knight Foundation.


In 2009, journalists Scott Klein and Eric Umansky of ProPublica and Aron Pilhofer of The New York Times received a Knight News Challenge grant for initial development of the platform.[7][8][9][10] Jeremy Ashkenas joined as lead developer, and DocumentCloud was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. By September 2009, two dozen media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune had signed on as beta testers.[11]

A public beta was announced[12] at the 2010 NICAR conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and within a year contributing news organizations had uploaded 1 million pages.[13]

In 2011, DocumentCloud received a second Knight News Challenge grant,[14] dissolved its own nonprofit entity, and merged with the nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors.[15][16] Since then, IRE has assumed primary responsibility for maintenance and development of the platform as well as managing its grant funding.

DocumentCloud received a third Knight grant in summer 2014, with primary goals including improved platform stability, new features, and developing a plan for financial sustainability.[17] Since its start, DocumentCloud accounts have been free to journalism organizations, but the organization has announced it will be implementing a pay model.[18]

Open-source projects[edit]

In addition to the platform itself, development of DocumentCloud has led to the creation of several open-source projects:


  1. ^ "Who We Are". DocumentCloud. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  2. ^ DeBarros, Anthony (10 August 2015). "A Summer Day's Worth of Updates". DocumentCloud Blog. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Backbone.js". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Ashkenas, Jeremy (13 October 2010). "Code Drop: Backbone.js". DocumentCloud Blog. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Underscore.js". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Ashkenas, Jeremy (28 October 2009). "Underscore.js: Our Second Open-Source Release". DocumentCloud Blog. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Knight News Challenge: DocumentCloud". Knight Foundation. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Seward, Zachary M. (17 June 2009). "Knight News Challenge: A grant to DocumentCloud promises a data boost for investigative journalism". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Kirkpatrick, Marshall (17 June 2009). "DocumentCloud Gets Funding to Create Research Memory Bank in the Sky". ReadWrite. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  10. ^ Reagan, Gillian (18 June 2009). "Times, ProPublica Journos Get $719,500 for DocumentCloud". Observer. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Seward, Zachary M. (24 September 2009). "DocumentCloud adds impressive list of investigative-journalism outfits". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Townend, Judith (6 January 2010). "DocumentCloud aims to release a public beta in March 2010". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Ashkenas, Jeremy (28 February 2011). "A Million Pages". DocumentCloud blog. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Knight News Challenge: DocumentCloud Reader Annotations". Knight Foundation. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Sonderman, Jeff (9 June 2011). "IRE takes over DocumentCloud as Knight funding expires". Poynter. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  16. ^ Bracken, John (9 June 2011). "News Challenge Success Story Finds a Home". Knight Foundation. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  17. ^ "DocumentCloud, an annotation tool for journalists, to improve features and become a standard in newsrooms with $1.4 million from Knight Foundation". Knight Foundation. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  18. ^ DeBarros, Anthony (10 August 2015). "A Summer Day's Worth of Updates". DocumentCloud Blog. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 

Additional Citations[edit]

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