Journalism's biggest data experiment, EveryBlock, relaunches

Plenty has been written about EveryBlock since word came last month that the site’s owners planned to revive the site after it was abruptly shut down 11 months ago.

But last week OpenGovChicago created a unique opportunity for developers, local news lovers, and open data folks: the chance to speak directly with the Comcast executives in charge of bringing EveryBlock back.

The event generated plenty of interest in Chicago, the city that gave birth to Everyblock and is a recognized leader in open data.

In large part the event provided a forum for EveryBlock and community members to begin a dialogue about the site and its use as a news source and community resource. A few surprises emerged:

  1. “There’s still not a business model in hyperlocal.” Comcast’s Matt Summy, regional vice president of external and government affairs, reiterated throughout the meeting that the company doesn’t have a plan to make Everyblock profitable. The plan is to create a the best tool possible and integrate it as deeply as possible in to communities around Chicago and see what comes of it, Summy said.
  2. Chicago is the only market for EveryBlock. Given the lack of a business model, EveryBlock is a single city site. If Comcast finds a way to make the site sustainable here, it’ll go to other cities, Summy said.
  3. Widgets are back. The EveryBlock widgets many local sites used to keep readers up to date on events, crime and restaurant inspections are again available.
  4. EveryBlock has teamed up with WordPress. For now the collaboration seems to extend only to WordPress plugins for EveryBlock widgets, but the presenters made a bit of a show about the collaboration so it’ll be interesting to see if anything else comes of it.
  5. EveryBlock isn’t that big. In EveryBlock’s biggest market (Chicago) the site had about 1 million pageviews each month generated by an “active user” group of about 40,000, said Paul Wright, Comcast local media director.
  6. People love EveryBlock. The number of people with strong opinions about the site and its role in communities surprised me. Yes, there was a bunch of Twitter outrage last year when it was shut, but it’s easy to be outraged when all you have to do is post a tweet. It’s another to put on your boots and coat, get on a bus, and suffer through a single digit Chicago night to learn more about a website. Chicago’s EveryBlock users are a dedicated bunch.


If you want to learn more, check out the Google Doc with fairly complete notes of the discussion. Glad to have you back EveryBlock!

About the author

Ryan Graff

Communications and Outreach Manager, 2011-2016

Journalism, revenue, whitewater, former carny. Recently loving some quality time @KelloggSchool.

Latest Posts

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • How to translate live-spoken human words into computer “truth”

    Our Knight Lab team spent three months in Winter 2018 exploring how to combine various technologies to capture, interpret, and fact check live broadcasts from television news stations, using Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant device as a low-friction way to initiate the process. The ultimate goal was to build an Alexa skill that could be its own form of live, automated fact-checking: cross-referencing a statement from a politician or otherwise newsworthy figure against previously fact-checked statements......

    Continue Reading

  • Northwestern is hiring a CS + Journalism professor

    Work with us at the intersection of media, technology and design.

    Are you interested in working with journalism and computer science students to build innovative media tools, products and apps? Would you like to teach the next generation of media innovators? Do you have a track record building technologies for journalists, publishers, storytellers or media consumers? Northwestern University is recruiting for an assistant or associate professor for computer science AND journalism, who will share an appointment in the Medill School of Journalism and the McCormick School...

    Continue Reading

  • Introducing StorylineJS

    Today we're excited to release a new tool for storytellers.

    StorylineJS makes it easy to tell the story behind a dataset, without the need for programming or data visualization expertise. Just upload your data to Google Sheets, add two columns, and fill in the story on the rows you want to highlight. Set a few configuration options and you have an annotated chart, ready to embed on your website. (And did we mention, it looks great on phones?) As with all of our tools, simplicity...

    Continue Reading

  • Join us in October: NU hosts the Computation + Journalism 2017 symposium

    An exciting lineup of researchers, technologists and journalists will convene in October for Computation + Journalism Symposium 2017 at Northwestern University. Register now and book your hotel rooms for the event, which will take place on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14 in Evanston, IL. Hotel room blocks near campus are filling up fast! Speakers will include: Ashwin Ram, who heads research and development for Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) agent, which powers the...

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More