After a successful 2011, OpenFile announces mobile apps for all platforms

In the coming weeks, OpenFile will be going mobile, says CEO Wilf Dinnick.

In the coming weeks, OpenFile will be going mobile, says CEO Wilf Dinnick.

In an effort to give users a new way to interact with the collaborative news website, OpenFile will launch a mobile app for each of its cities in February. “A substantial amount of traffic comes to OpenFile from mobile and sadly, we have been unable to meet the demand,” Dinnick told J-Source. OpenFile has partnered with Polar Mobile to make the apps available on all devices and all platforms – from Blackberry, to Android, to iPhone and iPad.

The site had a big year in 2011 — its first full calendar year of publishing. OpenFile won two COPAs, was a finalist in two categories at the National Magazine Awards and was a runner-up at the Online News Awards in Boston. It also expanded its editorial staff, hiring a news curator in each of its cities, as well as a full-time social media and community editor. And while branches in Waterloo and Hamilton ultimately didn't work out, new ones were launched in Montreal and Halifax.

The investments have paid off, and OpenFile’s audience has quadrupled since September, Dinnick says. “We are still growing, best month over month.” Other page metrics are also improving, he said, including returning visitors, page views and time on site. “We are under no illusion about the hill still ahead of us but we think it's a very nice start.”

The site is built on the premise that good local news comes from collaboration between members of the community and journalists, and they continue to build on this idea by now allowing voting on suggested stories to gauge reader interest.

Dinnick said in an email statement that OpenFile’s most significant successes of 2011 were in its interactive maps, which included the Baby File, the Film File and re-visiting the award-winning Poppy File. “This type of data journalism holds huge potential for building and keeping new audiences, and we’re committed to dive deeper into this exciting field,” he said.

What’s the next mapping project that OpenFile will tackle? “Top secret,” Dinnick told J-Source, but did say we could look forward to a project launching around the Census that leverages the site’s geo-tagging.