NewsJack makes it easy to change headlines on news websites. Once you have finished editing, you can publish your creation and share it with anyone.
NewsJack was built as a class project for Sasha Costanza Chock‘s “Introduction to Civic Media.” It enables détournement using web technologies. For those of you who don’t speak French / Chinese / Whatever that is, it means “turning expressions of the capitalist system and its media culture against itself.” It’s a very specific form of satire that takes subversive messages and wraps them in a skin that you are used to seeing (this might mean brand, it might mean medium, it might mean something completely different). Good détournement forces the viewer to question their world and their expectations.
The specific inspiration behind NewsJack is the Yes Men’s New York Times Special Edition. This fake paper was actually printed and handed out on the streets of New York City in 2009. It looked like a real copy of the Times, but had headlines like “IRAQ WAR ENDS” and “Maximum Wage Law Succeeds.” Imagining picking up a newspaper that you believed was the New York Times and seeing that type of headline. For a moment, until you realized what was going on, it might change the way you see your world.
That’s the experience that I ultimately wanted to enable online, where content is far harder to modify and spread for anyone who doesn’t know how to code. It is built using a modified version of a Mozilla tool called Hackasaurus. The original code was designed to help people learn HTML (the core building block of the Internet). I stripped out all that hippie foo foo learning crap and left the essence: code that makes it possible to edit a website by pointing and clicking.
Once you’re done you can hit publish, and a copy of the page you just modified is uploaded to some server out in the universe. You get a URL to share around, and suddenly your remix is alive and kicking.
You might say to yourself: “… how is this legal?” to which I would respond by picking up a copy of the first amendment, making a paper airplane out of it, and throwing it at your head. Of course, that didn’t stop the New York Times from sending a cease and desist on the first day we launched the site! I suppose that’s a story for another time.
Papers, Posts, and Press
- NewsJack launches to let you remix, edit news websites (Poynter)
- All The News You’d Love to See: NewsJack Launches To Allow You To Remix & Spoof The Media (BostInno)
- Jack This Site: NewsJack Lets Regular Users Remix Websites (Media Bistro)
- Workshopping NewsJack with Press Pass TV (C4CM)
I have a feeling our lawyers will be particularly interested in this project.
– Every Mainstream Media Source