Document Cloud

Let me introduce you to Document Cloud (DC), an online service funded by a very substantial grant from the Knight Foundation.

Document Cloud directly addresses a concern that I’ve expressed a number of times here, that online news stories often refer to, or depend on, documents that are themselves not made available to the reader. Occasionally, of course, a link to an outside source would suffice. But at other times it would be most sensible to lodge the document in a secure place, and, better, a place that would help the referencing news organ to embed it in the story or an accompanying web page. Document Cloud is such a place.

Moreover, DC lets you make private and public annotations to the document, helpful if journalists want to confer on how best to present a story or if they wish to help readers understand the import of aspects in the document.

Take a look at how some news organizations are using Document Cloud. See, for instance, the astonishing array of documentation provided by the Chicago Tribune to support its stories on the Blagojevich trial. Or explore the agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the U.K. as annotated by PBS News Hour. (The annotations are dynamic, so be sure to click on the marginal “stickies.”)

Membership in Document Cloud is for news organizations and other groups that work with documents in the public interest. I’ve obtained a membership for Slaw, though nothing’s been uploaded yet in our name. If you come across documents that you believe are of relevance to our entries, or that should form the basis for an entry, please let me know. As well, I imagine that Document Cloud could be a good platform for the analysis of, and commentary on, legislation of interest, something we will likely explore in the near future.


  1. As it happens I’ve just come across an admirable use of Scribd to do something similar. The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa Notebook has embedded a Scribd page that contains the long form census so that people can see what all the fuss is about.