Pens writing
Credit: By Keith Williamson on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Blirt, a new magazine website created by a computer science student to practice programming, offers an inventive mix of interactive journalism.

The site, created by Henry Kirkness of the University of the West of England, is presented as a cross between an online magazine and a social network for aspiring journalists where registered users can write and publish articles and subscribe to favourite writers to curate their own magazine.

"The main idea really is for aspiring journalists who want to publish their work, get feedback and build a portfolio," Kirkness told Journalism.co.uk. "but also for bloggers who might want to start posting but don't want to start a blog and get lots of traffic.

"I also want to push for one-off story writers, so if you experience something really cool – like a news event – you can post your slant on the story."

Users can browse articles by topic while popular stories and writers see their articles promoted using data collected from social interactions and collated algorithmically.

"The score is the number of views or ratings," continued Kirkness," although if they get a low rating that doesn't come into it because people might just not agree with it whereas it might be a well written, interesting or controversial article.

"I've got the amount of comments it gets and then it also takes into account how frequently you're writing articles. It's a way of gaining exposure for those top writers."

Kirkness admitted that although there are other sites with a similar crowdsourced approach to publishing, he believed the presentation and thinking behind Blirt will make it stand out, both as a site for users to browse through articles and as a space for aspiring journalists to promote their work.

The site itself was programmed using PHP "completely from scratch" over a period of months before launching in January.

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