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Posts Tagged ‘coding’

Why Journalists Should Pay Attention to Knight-Mozilla OpenNews’ Source

Here at 10,000 Words, we’ve written about why developers should work in the newsroom, we’ve told you why journalists should learn to code, and we’ve also shared tools journalists can access to start coding.

While there are plenty of reasons to why journalists should gain some coding skills – it makes you a stronger digital journalist, you can fix things that break on your site, you can create projects without always going to the time-deprived developers, and so on – many journalists don’t see a real need to get their hands dirty in some code.

Well this week, the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project team has provided journalists everywhere with a lot of motivation to start coding with the launch of its journalism code sharing site, Source.

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Opportunity: Share Talent with Newsrooms, Share Code with Everyone

Here’s a PSA-of-sorts if you (or your friends) love journalism and have a technical background, too: less than two weeks are left to apply for the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellowships.

A Knight-Mozilla Fellowship offers a pretty unique experience to a developer, according to Dan Sinker, Director of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. Those selected this year (the program’s second year) will be plugged into a newsroom to solve problems, and they also receive a combination of paid compensation and benefits—a nice package on its own. But they also will share their code — and experiences — in the open, with hopes that the experiences and knowledge reaches beyond the fellows to a greater community. Read more

Why should developers work in the newsroom? NYT and ProPublica coders explain

Newsrooms can be stressful places, full of strong personalities, short deadlines and an insatiable news hole. For reporters and editors, they’re stressful for another reason: The on-going uncertainty of when the fun may end and their ride on the journalism merry-go-round will stop while they join the queue of former journalists vying for fewer and fewer news jobs.

Meanwhile, software developers can often have their pick of locations and a plethora of job opportunities to go after. Their skills are in demand in many industries. So why should they bother to take their talents to a corner of the development industry where so often the “developing story” is about its own struggles or layoffs?

Besides the obvious — we need help to make cool news apps to compliment and help build on our stories! — Dan Sinker at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab tracked down six developers working in the news business to get their take on why they wanted to code in the newsroom.

It turns out they’re drawn for similar reasons as the writers and editors: the unpredictable, deadline-driven development atmosphere is fun, and there’s the opportunity to help tell the story and make news and data more meaningful.

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TechRaking 2012: Three Questions To Ask Before Building A News App

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — Today at the Googleplex, a group of roughly 200 journalists and technologists are talking about how to create a more perfect union between muckrakers and technologists at CIR’s TechRaking conference. The Chicago Tribune’s Brian Boyer gave a seven-minute ignite talk directed toward “the people who are bosses of people who put data on the web.”

Boyer’s metaphor? News apps are like pottery: It’s supposed to be useable; it’s a craft. Does your mug still work when their’s hot coffee inside? Or does the handle force your fingers to touch the cup, burning your skin and rendering the cup unuseable?

The  questions Boyer’s team asks before approaching every project:

  1. Who are you users?
  2. What are their needs?
  3. What can we do for them?

The example he used was for a nursing home database. The users? People with elderly family members in nursing homes. Their need? They read scary reports about nursing home abuse and want to know if grandpa is going to be OK. What can you do for them? Give them a database so they can search for offenses at Grandpa’s nursing home.

Just because you have location data and time information doesn’t mean you need to build a map and a timeline. In the example above, Boyer had the information for nursing home locations and time of incidents, but that’s not what’s useful for people using the app.

“Our work sings when it helps folks find their own story,” Boyer said. Don’t overdo it for the sake of overdoing it.

His final four points:

  • Craft is useful
  • Fight your urges
  • Know your audience
  • Make useful stuff

An Experiment with Google+ Hangouts and Code Year

What happens when you combine Codeacademy’s Code Year and Google+ Hangouts? Robert Hernandez is hoping it equals a bunch of journalists learning to code together.

“This is a group DIY Project, where we learn together, teach each other and support our growth,” wrote Hernandez, a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, on the Learn Code for Journalism with Me site. “My goal here is for all of us to grow and improve journalism.”

The experimental project seems to be a good one, so far. Almost 100 people have signed up for it, including some professors from Medill, a competitor to USC. While Hernandez is still working out the specifics, the general plan is to have classes start in April and meet regularly in pre-scheduled weekly Google+ Hangouts to work on a lesson together.

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