OpenNews: Building New Communities with the New York Times and the Washington Post
Community is at the core of what we do at Knight-Mozilla OpenNews—helping to build and strengthen the community of people writing code in journalism. And community is a big part of what has made Mozilla successful—the global community of contributors that has helped to build the Firefox web browser.
Community is also at the core of journalism: whether it’s geographic communities that form the bedrock of local news or the communities of interest that form around subjects as broad as basketball and politics, journalism has always had community at its core.
Which is why it’s exciting to announce that today, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are joining forces to create a next-generation community platform for journalism. The web offers all sorts of new and exciting ways of engaging with communities far beyond the ubiquitous (and often terrible) comments sections at the bottom of articles. We’re looking forward to writing code together to enable them.
We don’t see this project as a single product, but instead as building blocks for engaging communities throughout the web. Open source at its core, and focused on giving users unprecedented control over their identity and contributions, this is a project we believe in.
It’s also a unique collaboration between two of the largest and most respected news organizations in the world. Enabling that kind of collaboration is something that we’ve worked on for from the beginning at OpenNews. While this is a huge project—the grant is equal to the one that enables us to do our core work at OpenNews—it also feels like a natural extension of what we do.
Finally, this is a project that has the opportunity not only to improve community engagement in journalism, but to strengthen the web itself. Technologies like Backbone.js, D3, and Django have all been forged and tested in the demanding environment of the newsroom, and then gone on to transform the way people build on the web. We don’t know that there’s a Backbone lurking inside this project, but we’re sure as hell going to find out.
There’s much more to come, and we’ll be getting down to work soon. But for now, here’s to new experiments, to thinking big, and to communities, new and old—and all the the things we can accomplish, together.
OpenNews: Apply to become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow
I’m excited to announce that starting today, applications to become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow are open. The Fellowships offer an opportunity for people that love to code to get paid to spend ten months building new things in collaboration with some of the best news organizations in the world. Fellows spend their time following their passions, working in the open, sharing ideas, traveling the world, and writing transformative code.
2015 marks our fourth year of the fellowship program, and we’re going strong with seven incredible news organizations:
The New York Times
National Public Radio
The Washington Post
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Our news partners offer a home base for each fellow, colleagues to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with, and plenty of problem-sets to work with. Knight-Mozilla fellows are in the newsroom when news breaks and gets to feel the electricity in the air as the world changes.
This year’s partners represent some of the best we’ve yet assembled, pushing new boundaries in reporting, in visualizations, in presentation, and in the news product itself. From Argentina to England, from New York to the San Francisco Bay, our 2015 News Partners are trying new things and breaking new ground—and *you* can join them.
The Knight-Mozilla Fellowship year is an amazing chance for a creative coder, civic hacker, data geek, engineer, or technologist to challenge herself, to write amazing code, and to help journalism transform on the open web. This is a golden age of web-native journalism, and you can be on the cutting edge of it.
If you’re up for the challenge (and you should be), you have until August 16th to apply. We’ve made the application fast: just a few quick questions and links to your best stuff. You have a couple months, but should apply today.
As journalism continues to break new ground on the web, news organizations large and small are hiring developers, designers, and others who bring new skills and ideas to journalism. Growing the community of talented developers working in news is one of the things we try to do at OpenNews. Our Fellowship program, our sponsorship of hack days, our website Source—it’s all part of trying to build the community of folks coding in news. Today we’re taking a very direct path to that: We’re launching a new section on Source that will list the latest journalism-code jobs.
Source is designed (from the database up) around the people building journalism on the web. Jobs is a natural compliment to the project breakdowns, behind-the-scenes articles, Q&As, and learning pieces that we feature on Source: you can learn how it’s done, and then you can go and do it in some of the best newsrooms around the world.
This is an exciting time for journalism and an exciting time to code in news. We’re thrilled to be able to play a small part in helping to bring talent into newsrooms. And we can’t wait to see the code all these new jobs produce!
Source Jobs is the first of many new features to come on Source, all possible thanks to our renewed grant that puts additional emphasis on community building and Source in particular. Expect much more to come soon—including dates and a location for the SRCCON conference, which we’ll be announcing at the NICAR conference next week.
2013 was an incredible year for OpenNews. Our Knight-Mozilla Fellows did fantastic work; Source continued to grow as a hub for the incredible work done by the news nerd community; we helped to sponsor more than 50 news hack days around the world, and much much more. But 2013 is almost over and, in these waning days of it, I wanted to tell you about some amazing stuff that’s happening right out of the gate in 2014:
Surprise Sixth Fellow!
When we announced our 2014 Fellows at the Mozilla Festival in London this year, our friends at the Knight Foundation approached us about adding a sixth fellow, to be hosted by the team doing great work at the Washington Post. We jumped at the opportunity, in part because we received so many stunning applicants for our original fellowship search we were excited to revisit the list and find someone amazing to work with. And today, I’m thrilled to announce our sixth 2014 fellow:
Ben Chartoff designs and creates data visualizations. He is committed to building data literacy and numeracy through viscerally clear and compelling visuals. At the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, DC, Ben worked to demonstrate the value of open government and open data as essential elements in a democracy. He has a background in both the arts and sciences, and strives to bring both beauty and rigor to every project. He is passionate about most things, including food and backpacking.
Ben will be joining our five other fantastic 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows at our Fellowship Onboarding event in San Francisco in mid-January. We’re so excited!
We’re growing in 2014!
One of the most exciting aspects of our new grant is the ability to add some staff to OpenNews. And today I’m so excited to announce that in 2014, Erin Kissane will be joining us as Director of Content and Ryan Pitts will be joining us as Director of Code. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Erin and Ryan extensively on the Source project, but starting in 2014 (Erin immediately, Ryan a little later in the year), they’ll be joining as full-time partners in OpenNews. We’re *thrilled* to have them on board and excited about what that’ll mean for everything we can accomplish together.
And much more to come
In early December, Erin, Ryan, Erika Owens, Kio Stark, and myself got together in New York City for two days of building a calendar and a plan for 2014. There is so much to come this year, from SRCCON (our maker-heavy Source conference for the journalism-code community) mid-year, to two Code Convenings that will bring news developers together to open-source code, to learning and hacking events around the world, and much, much more. 2014 is going to be an incredible year.
Here’s a quick look at our whiteboarded calendar, with much much more to come:
Get ready for maximum OpenNews ass-kickery in 2014!
Last month I co-led a “Web Developer Literacy” for reporters and editors at the Online News Association conference. I expected a lot of questions about particular technologies, but the discussion wound up focusing much more on process and office politics, touching on tough questions like:
How do you integrate developers into a team of reporters? How do you spec out digital projects when you have no idea what’s feasible? How can developers, designers, and reporters work together effectively in the crucible of a newsroom?
Last night, while enjoying some steak, sweet potato and apple tacos, I decided to create a github repo dedicated to community-driven taco creation. Just over 12 hours later, it’s had 103 commits, 17 contributors, and a ton of delicious recipes. Love tacos? SUBMIT YOURS TOO.
265 applicants. When our search for our 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellowships ended at midnight, August 17, that’s what we were staring at: 265 of some of the most talented developers, hackers, data scientists, and makers I’d ever come across. The number of slots we had for them? Five.
The process to narrow from 265 to five wasn’t easy—at every step in the process we’d have a gut check, constantly revising our narrowed lists upward to make sure we didn’t miss anyone amazing. By the time we’d winnowed the lists down to an impossibly small 25 candidates, our news partners—the New York Times, ProPublica, the Texas Tribune, La Nacion, Ushahidi and Internews Kenya—all asked the same question: Can we choose them all?
But, together, we narrowed down to a final five.
These five Fellows come at a turning point for the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project as well. As I announced last week, OpenNews will be continuing not just for 2014, but for 2015 and 2016 as well, supported by a substantial grant from the Knight Foundation. This grant allows us to expand far beyond fellowships: we’ll be hosting our own conference, SRC CON; we’ll be holding “code convenings” to build collaborative newsroom code; we’ll be supporting hack days around the world and bringing learning opportunities to smaller newsrooms. But we will always see our Knight-Mozilla Fellows as the beating heart inside OpenNews: a chance to invest deeply in talent and ideas and new blood for a growing community.
2014 marks our third cohort of Knight-Mozilla Fellows, and the five fellows I’m announcing today have their work cut out for them to match the incredible ideas, projects, and people that came before them.
That said, they’re going to blow it all away. Our new fellows are amazing and I am so excited for you to meet them. We started at 265 and now we have five—meet our 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows:
Harlo Holmes | New York Times
Harlo Holmes is a media scholar, software programmer, and activist. As research fellow with The Guardian Project, she primarily investigates topics in digital media steganography, metadata, and the standards surrounding technology in the social sciences. She harnesses her multi-faceted background in service of responding to the growing technological needs of human rights workers, journalists, and other do-gooders around the world. Follow her @harlo or at harloholm.es
Brian Jacobs | ProPublica
Brian Jacobs is a designer and interactive developer. He’s passionate about multi-faceted visual tools that are civic-minded, scientific, journalistic, or otherwise educational, to benefit the people and their habitat. He’s worked in commercial and academic contexts, on GIS projects in West Virginia, web apps in Philadelphia, and towards an urban data processing and visualization platform for the MIT SENSEable City Lab, in Singapore. He’s excited about the future of open data, particularly collaborative and semantic web initiatives that can afford reproducible access to cleaner, more interdisciplinary data. Brian is also intensely interested in bagels, hikes, and sci-fi camp. Follow him @btjakes.
Aurelia Moser | Ushahidi / Internews Kenya
Aurelia Moser is a data munger and code monkey based in New York City. With a background in library metadata and lab work, she builds visualizations and narratives around data, supported dually by passions for data preservation and open information. Equal part experimenter and educator, she organizes NYC Nodebots meetups and coordinates curricula for Girl Develop It, a non-profit teaching women how to code in low-cost classes. For fun, she runs a radio show based on the semantic web, and digs studying, silent discos, and shoegaze. Follow her @auremose or at algorhyth.ms.
Gabriela Rodriguez | La Nacion
Gabriela Rodriguez is an activist and hacker who loves the intersection between media and technology. She grew up in Uruguay and now lives in Portland, OR (USA). She is a software developer with passion for free software and open knowledge. She co-founded the Uruguayan nonprofit DATA that works with open data and transparency in South America. Follow her @gaba.
Marcos Vanetta | Texas Tribune
Marcos Vanetta is a biomedical engineer truly passionate about software and technology. He is an experienced web developer and an open source enthusiast. Marcos is an active member of the Hacks/Hackers community in Buenos Aires and the lead developer of Mapa76 (aka Analice.me). You can find him in a rock & roll concert or at your closest hackathon. Follow him @malev or at malev.com.ar.
All five fellows will be with us in London this weekend for the Mozilla Festival. If you’re there, do seek them out, say hello, and find out more about them. And, if you’re at MozFest, be sure to track me down and say hi as well.
"How can we help?" When I first joined OpenNews (at the time it was called the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership—a mouthful to be sure), I asked that question a lot. If I was in a room with news developers, it was one of the first things out of my mouth. If I was sending e-mails, it was toplined. If you had a beer with me those first few months, I asked it. If we went on a walk, I asked it. If we passed in an airport, I asked it.
When the answers came—varied and honest and clear—they helped to transform the program, turning us from simply a fellowship program that placed technologists in newsrooms into a program that also helped support the nascent journalism code community through initiatives like Source (one year old yesterday) and our journalism Hack Day sponsorships (more than 40 in 20 countries since Spring 2012).
And now, today, I can’t believe I get to announce that we’re transforming even more. Thanks to a significant grant from the Knight Foundation, OpenNews will be expanding our work helping to strengthen the community creating code in journalism through 2016.
The core work we’re doing is continuing:
We’re continuing our fellowship program (in fact, we’ll be announcing our five incredible new fellows at the Mozilla Festival next week) for all three years. Our fellows still have the same mandate: to experiment, to follow their passions, and to build amazing things.
We’re continuing to run Source, our hub for the journalism code community, but with budget for more coverage of the innovative code coming out of journalism, and continued buildout of the Learning section we launched earlier this year.
We’ll still be sponsoring and helping organize journalism hack days around the world—an initiative that has brought thousands of people around the world into contact with journo-coding. We’ve held events in every continent but two: Australia and Antarctica, we’re coming for you next.
But we’re also doing a bunch that’s new:
In addition to expanding Source, we’ll be launching a Source Conference (right now, we’re calling it SRC CON) that will combine the passion-driven open sessions of an unconference with the collaborative making of a hack weekend.
We’ll be pulling together “code convenings” of journalism developers and open-source contributors to collaborate on shared codebases and libraries so that we can stop continually reinventing the wheel on needed infrastructure, like election parsers, opsec, visualizations, and more.
We’ll be prototyping in-person learning opportunities for smaller and less-tech savvy newsrooms. A lot of work will be forking off of current Knight-Mozilla Fellow Noah Veltman’s excellent Learning Lunches he’s been doing at the BBC. This work will put us in some new places, and we’re looking forward to going.
This list is just the start. With three years of runway, we’ll be taking off in all sorts of new directions as well.
Everything we’re doing—new and old, on this list and still-to-come—comes from talking, collaborating, and building with the incredible community of newsroom coders, civic hackers, open-source contributors we’ve met through the work we’re doing at OpenNews. It’s a vibrant, growing community that is not only transforming journalism, but also the web itself.
We’re incredibly lucky to call this community home and to be able to help it thrive. The next three years are going to be amazing.
It’s been said that, given enough time, a million monkeys at typewriters would eventually, randomly, type the works of Shakespeare. It’s just a way of saying that mathematically, given infinite possibilities, eventually everything will happen. But I’ve always wanted it literally to be true. I’ve wanted those little monkeys to produce something beautiful, something meaningful, and yet something wholly unexpected.
@Horse_ebooks was my monkey Shakespeare. I think it was a lot of people’s. For those of you that weren’t familiar, @Horse_ebooks was a script that used an algorithm called a markov chain to collect bits and pieces of the internet itself as fodder and posted them on Twitter. It did this for years.
It shouldn’t have been amazing. Writing that description just now, it doesn’t seem amazing. But, for dedicated fans, it was. For all of the absurdity of @Horse, I think that there were many of us who would also admit that it was often also beautiful and, in a way, meaningful. Beauty and meaning, built from randomness.
Which is why today when Susan Orlean (of all people!) revealed in the New Yorker (of all places!) that for at least the last two years, @Horse has actually been authored (shepherded? overseen? THERE IS NOT A WORD TO DESCRIBE THIS) by Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender two employees of Buzzfeed (seriously) and that the account was coming to an end today, with a culmination in a performance art piece (ouch) at a New York gallery (fuck), it felt devastating.
Now that the truth is out, now that @Horse_Ebooks is over, I’m left searching, trying to figure out what it means.
In many ways, this is a good thing right? Art, meaning, beauty: This is still the province of humans, not something that can be manufactured by a few lines of code. Chalk one up for humanity, right? Nice job, us.
Except it feels empty, a little at least, doesn’t it? Because the only other explanation for @Horse was always deeply human as well: It was code, written by human hand, that was left to wander the internet on its own, only to be discovered by someone else, its beauty recognized and then, person by person, passed along. Told that way, the story of @Horse is the story of ourselves, isn’t it?
Maybe I would feel better about this if it wasn’t Buzzfeed employees. Maybe I’d feel better if the “performance art” end didn’t feel like a thing that got bolted-on after-the-fact. Maybe.
If this was a kid her bedroom playing the ultimate poetry-prank on the world, would I feel better about it? Probably.
But it’s not, right? This isn’t monkeys with typewriters. This isn’t a lonely kid in a basement. The reality is that these guys did something pretty amazing. I know a bit about keeping a big secret, and that ALONE is worth an incredible amount of respect. And I also know what it’s like to hold onto a rocket as it shoots through the internet, and THAT is also incredibly hard. And the two in combination? It is nearly impossible. Holding on to your sanity is hard. So, respect.
And, even today, I love @Horse_Ebooks. A lot. Every day it was a gift. There were some days—thankfully not all that many—where it was the only thing I looked forward to. I know that that was true for others as well. The absurd beauty. The stars-stars-stars of it all. Whatever the province. Whatever the backstory. Whether it was code-driven, or all hand-made artisanal. It was wonderful.
So, thank you.
As hard as today feels—and I am REALLY NOT KIDDING, it really feels hard, like a punch through everything I thought I knew—it doesn’t change that Horse was a thing of beauty on a scale that it’s going to take a while to truly understand.
And yet I just can’t fully get behind these revelations. I have too many questions: How much of this was still just a machine? How much was mediated by hand? Was any of it authored directly, before today’s ‘reveal’ tweets? How long was it running before it was ‘acquired’ by Bakkila and Bender? What does ‘acquisition’ even mean in this context? What changed at the point of ‘acquisition’? Nothing? Everything? Why is it that everything wonderful ends up turning to shit and why can’t unicorns be real and fuck absolutely everything I hate it all.
OK, maybe that last one wasn’t a question.
But still. If this is art, art is about context. And I don’t know that I have enough context to know entirely how to feel.
Because I feel shitty.
And I feel confused about feeling shitty.
Buzzfeed being attached to this—even tangentially—I think plays deeply into that feeling, because that site is first-and-foremost about manipulating the science of clicks and likes, and if this is all @Horse was, then god help us all. But also “Performance art” feels like a cop-out, and the actual performance today—based on descriptions—reinforces that. You can’t just put a placard on a wall and call it art. I mean, I went to art school and so I know that you can, but you’d better back that up with the mother of all context. I don’t have that context yet, so I guess I’m skeptical, and I don’t want to be.
I don’t want to be because, even if nothing else was, the tweets WERE real, right?
I mean, I AM STILL READY TO FLY IN HELICOPTERS. I AM STILL USING MY FINGERS TO INDICATE TRIANGULAR SHAPE.
There’s been an image circulating today of the iconic X-Files “I Want to Believe” poster, with the UFO replaced with the @Horse_Ebooks avatar. And I do feel like that:
I want to believe.
I want to believe this wasn’t just yet another internet buzz-marketing prank.
I want to believe that @Horse was as beautiful and wonderful today as it was yesterday.
I want to believe that beauty can be assembled from the randomness of life all around us.
I want to believe that a million monkeys can make something amazing.
Eleven seconds. When he hit “submit form” on his Knight-Mozilla Fellowship application, that was all the time that was left between Brian Abelson getting a Fellowship at the New York Times and, well, not. Reflecting back on it now, Brian remarks that it was “incredible that I was that close to missing this life-changing experience”
We’re down to the wire on applying to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow—the deadline is Saturday August 17 at midnight (technically Saturday at 11:59:59pm), and if you’re worried that it’s already too late, remember Brian Abelson’s story. Because he only had eleven seconds to spare—as last second as anything gets—and he became a Fellow.
So what took him so long? “The main thing that held me back was the fact that I had no easy way to share the projects I had worked on,” Brian says, echoing a similar concern we’ve heard from other applicants. Plus, he says he looked at current Fellows’ websites and code on Github and “I felt really intimidated.”
That feeling of intimidation is natural—and is one we’ve heard repeated by every person that has been awarded a Fellowship. Current Fellow Noah Veltman explains it this way: “The crazy thing is, I almost didn’t apply. I didn’t even think I was a candidate. I had never studied computer science, I just tinkered with code in my spare time because I had fun projects I wanted to try.”
For Brian, the struggle with “imposter syndrome” (as well as setting up a Tumblr to showcase his work), ate up most of his time on the final Saturday to apply. “It actually took me so long to complete everything that I had to bail on one of my best friend’s birthdays to finish. She actually told me, ‘I’ll only forgive you if you get the fellowship.’”
He got it. With eleven seconds to spare. So can you.
If you love to code—whether you’re a “tinkerer” like Noah or seasoned developer looking for meaningful challenges—it is not too late to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. We designed our application form to be quick—five short questions and some links to projects you’ve made—so you can get it done between now and midnight Saturday. But you have to apply.
"When I finally pressed ‘submit,’" Brian remembers, "I felt totally dejected. Not only had I just jeopardized a friendship, but I had done it for a fellowship I didn’t think I had a chance at getting." Six months into his Fellowship year at the New York Times, Brian is still surprised at it all. "Given all this, I guess you can understand how shocked I was (and still am) that this happened to me."
It can happen to you too. But give it more than eleven seconds. Apply now.
I went to a water park with my son this weekend. He’s an analytical kid and, even though he’s been talking about hitting the big slides all summer, once we got there he put the breaks on pretty fast. They were too fast, too tall, too crazy. We spent about 25 minutes just watching a fast tube slide, talking it all through, before he finally agreed to get in line.
"You know how I am," he explained, "I like to look before I leap.”
The line wound around, and then there was a long climb up a tall hill to the top of the slide. We got the raft into the water, and he freaked out. Flat-out refused to get in. A line forming behind us, I picked him up, put him in the tube, and down we went. By the time we hit bottom he yelled “LET’S DO IT AGAIN!”
We picked up the tube and I turned to him and said, “That’s why sometimes you just gotta leap.”
With 48 hours left before the opportunity to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla, the time for looking is rapidly coming to a close. It’s time to leap.
For the last two months, we’ve been looking for people who love to code—developers, civic hackers, journo-coders, data crunchers, stats geeks, and more—to join us at OpenNews as Knight-Mozilla Fellows, where you’ll spend 10 months creating open-source code, hacking around the globe, working in some of the world’s best newsrooms, and helping to build out journalism’s codebase on the open web. We’ve been looking for two months. There are only two days left. Leap.
In addition to working with the incredible colleagues at your newsroom hosts, you’ll also be part of a cohort of fellows—five total in 2014—who will be your collaborators, your troublemakers, and your friends during this adventure. Over your ten months, you’ll have ample opportunity to code together, travel together, and collaborate on ideas and experiments. You’ll make connections that will ripple out past your fellowship year and into the life that grows beyond it. Leap.
We want you to be able to focus on doing amazing work, not making rent, and so during your time as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, you’ll be compensated well, with a full stipend and additional suppliments for yourself, your partner, and your children. You’ll have the financial support to research, travel, experiment, and build projects you care deeply about. You’ll have the time to dive deep into problemsets, to craft code that truly matters. Leap.
And, most importantly, you’ll join a growing community of journalist-programmers who are helping to redefine what journalism means on the internet and helping to craft code that is transforming the way we understand the world around us.
If you want to do bleeding-edge visualizations, leap.
With just three days left to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the globetrotting our fellows get up to. While Knight-Mozilla Fellows work out of some of the best newsrooms in the world, they also spend a fair amount of time travelling to conferences, hack events, festivals, or even just to get together and hack.
This is a big part of the “choose your own adventure” aspect of the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. We want our fellows to be able to dive deep into journalistic problemsets and to join the global community of people writing code to solve them. That means going to where folks are gathering to engage with them, run workshops, show off things you’ve made and collaborate on code together. As a result, our Fellows travel widely. Here’s just a fraction of the places our Knight-Mozilla Fellows have gone during their Fellowship year:
Tor Hackathon, Florence
Guardian Discovery Week, London
Journalism training at Al Jazeera, Doha
Malofiej (Infographic World Summit), Pamplona
Data Live, Dundee Scotland,
Big Data, Big Money, and You, NYC/Stanford
Webstock, New Zealand
BBC Connected Studios, London
Investigative News Iconathon, New York
Hacks/Hackers Argentina D3 Hackathon, Buenos Aires
International Journalism Festival, Perugia Italy
Second Cambridge Area Economics and Computation Day Cambridge, MA
BarCamp News Innovation Start-a-thon, Philadelphia
Want to see the world while you change it? Apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. But don’t delay! Just three days remain to apply. At midnight, Eastern time on Saturday August 17th, the opportunity will close. So apply now!
We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks talking about the myriad of opportunities available in the newsroom for people who love to code, but today I wanted to focus on the benefits available to our Knight-Mozilla Fellows.
We want our Fellows to have the "best year" of their lives, and that means making sure that they’re taken care of during their time as Knight-Mozilla Fellows. To that end, we offer a series of great benefits for our five Knight-Mozilla Fellows:
Monthly Stipend: We pay each of our fellows $6,000 US per month for the duration of the 10-month fellowship.
Suppliments: In addition to the $60,000 Fellowship stipend, we offer a series of suppliments to help offset the cost of housing, healthcare, and moving.
Partner and Children: We know not every coder is single, and we want your partner and children to be able to share your fellowship adventure. All of our suppliments scale and adapt to your living situation. We even offer a suppliment to help cover the cost of childcare.
Equipment and Research: We want our fellows to be ready to do write next-level code, and we know that sometimes means updating their equipment or doing deep-dives on research, and we we offer up to $3000 as in our research and equipment allowance. On top of that, we give each Fellow $250 to cover domain registrations or server costs for their experiments.
Travel: Our Knight-Mozilla Fellows travel the world to engage with the journalism-code community and we help to cover much of the travel Fellows do throughout the year. We even help to book it.
Our Fellowship benefits are extensive, and it’s worth checking out the full listing and cost breakdowns over on the OpenNews site. The 10 months you will spend as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow should be all about creating, experimenting, and collaboration, not about struggling to make rent or how to cover the cost of daycare, and so we’ve worked hard to make sure our benefits help to make your year the best one possible.
Do you love to code? Do you want to make a difference in journalism and beyond? Do you want to see the world while you change it? Act now. There is very little time left to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow—Saturday the 17th at Midnight EST, the opportunity ends. Make the move and apply today.
OpenNews: Five days left to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow
After a two-month search, it’s come down to this: As of today, there are just *five* short days left to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. The Knight-Mozilla Fellowships offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people who love to code to spend 10 months making a difference by creating new ideas and open-source tools to transform journalism on the web. Al Shaw, a news apps developer at ProPublica, puts the opportunity succinctly: “If what you’re interested in is changing the world and making useful software that tells a story and kicks some ass, please join us.” He’s right. Apply today.
Over the last month, we’ve asked other newsroom developers, our fellows (past and present), and our news partners to blog about writing code in the newsroom and the opportunities of the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. As we start this final five day push before the end of our 2014 Fellowship search, here’s a roundup of what people have been saying this month:
If you’re interested in contributing to our shared civic life, where we learn about the issues that define us and our future, there are few better places to be. We are not campaigners in the usual sense, but our mission is a better-informed and active citizenry, and newsrooms have a built-in platform for driving that effort. We do things that are not popular in the conventional sense but are necessary for a free society or shed light on an important issue. Newsrooms are about war and peace, laughter and pain and every aspect of our world.
Our current and former Knight-Mozilla Fellows talked about their experiences as fellows, and the amazing cohort of fellows that you join when you become one (part one / part two).
Noah Veltman: “My seven co-fellows routinely blow my mind with their work. I’ve met so many brilliant people around the world who are not just redefining how we do the news, but doing it as a team, one big journalism Justice League. I love this job.”
Sonya Song: “We don’t only collaborate remotely and virtually, but we also reunite in person on different continents, to put our heads together and hack on something.”
Mike Tigas: “We fellows inspire one another, we inspire other people, and we in turn, are inspired by a lot of the people we get a chance to interact with through the course of our fellowship work.”
Former fellow Nicola Hughes: “I was recently asked to describe the best team I ever worked with. I said the OpenNews fellows.”
New York Times: “He or she will spend 10 months working on real stories with real reporters and editors, the end goal of which will be to develop and, ultimately, release [a] document toolkit that real people can understand and use.”
ProPublica: “We work side by side with traditional reporters, and often write stories as well as code. We use our telephones as much as we do the command line. We answer to editors, and all our software needs to tell a story. We develop on deadline, meaning no long development cycles or Gantt charts. If you work in news, your code will be messy, but if it works, you’ll deploy it.”
La Nacion (en Español): “El becario trabajará codo a codo con el equipo de LA NACION DATA y los periodistas de la redacción.”
Texas Tribune: “Our News Apps team — and our fellow — will be in the middle of the biggest Texas story of the year, making election results available throughout the state via our interactive election coverage. Think brackets, scoreboards, campaign finance, and whatever else we can come up with.”
Ushahidi: “You could potentially be working on map focused API hacking or Data Dives. You are in charge to choose your path. But hold onto your hat, we move fast and expect tech chops with a smile.”
Internews Kenya: “Open data has a whole different definition in Kenya and developers have a chance to change the way the Kenyan media reports the news by encouraging data- driven instead of politically-driven journalism.”
There’s a lot to read in all these pieces and a lot to think about. But if you love to code and want to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow, don’t think for too long: Only five days remain to apply. Once midnight Eastern Time hits on Saturday August 17, the opportunity will be over. Apply today.
All this week our six amazing news partners who host our fellows in their newsrooms for the 10 months the fellowships run have been writing about why they’re involved in the program and what fellows can expect in working with them.
Aron Pilhofer at the New York Times, wants their fellow to spend their time at the Times “building an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy suite of tools to help journalists work with original source documents.” This toolkit will be informed by a deep-dive in newsroom collaboration, Pilhofer explains:
The fellow will be attached jointly to the two teams at The Times most involved in solving the documents-to-data dilemma: Interactive News and the computer-assisted reporting team. He or she will spend 10 months working on real stories with real reporters and editors, the end goal of which will be to develop and, ultimately, release the document toolkit that real people can understand and use.
In Nairobi, Kenya we’re offering a unique joint fellowship, where one of our Knight-Mozilla Fellows will spend time at both Ushahidi and Internews Kenya going deep on data.
Open data has a whole different definition in Kenya and developers have a chance to change the way the Kenyan media reports the news by encouraging data- driven instead of politically-driven journalism. Access is a huge issue: from gathering data held by traditional tribal leaders, to reluctant county administrations to NGOs that have been waiting for someone to come along and make use of the years of data they have collected on everything from female genital mutilation to the impact of progressive farming techniques on food security.
One of our core goals is to connect citizen voices to action. Sometimes this makes us professional tinkers, but it also means that you can dive in into data and maps from around the world on various topics from crisis response, election monitoring or civil society communities like anti-corruption or anti-harassment or environmental action.
The ProPublica news apps desk isn’t a service desk. As a colleague of ours put it, we’re not the deli counter slicing meats to order for the rest of the newsroom. We work side by side with traditional reporters, and often write stories as well as code. We use our telephones as much as we do the command line. We answer to editors, and all our software needs to tell a story. We develop on deadline, meaning no long development cycles or Gantt charts.
Our News Apps team — and our fellow — will be in the middle of the biggest Texas story of the year, making election results available throughout the state via our interactive election coverage. Think brackets, scoreboards, campaign finance, and whatever else we can come up with.
Data has been in the Trib’s DNA since day one — and we’ll be reinforcing that in 2014. Apply today to join us for one hell of a ride.
Did I mention we have the world’s best brisket?
Finally, we jump down to Buenos Aires Argentina for our fellowship at La Nacion. In their Spanish-language appeal for developers to join them, the La Nacion Data team emphasizes the importance of open-source development in the Fellow’s work. The team put together a video with their fellow, Manuel Aristaran to discuss his work and the opportunity at La Nacion:
As Al Shaw at ProPublica puts it: “If what you’re interested in is changing the world and making useful software that tells a story and kicks some ass, please join us”
We have backgrounds in programming, statistics, censorship research, cybersecurity, satellite communications, and we’re from nearly every corner of the earth. That range of backgrounds and skills has honestly made collaboration fun and at times surprising (in a good way).
For Mike, those diverse backgrounds have meant that “we fellows inspire one another, we inspire other people, and we in turn, are inspired by a lot of the people we get a chance to interact with through the course of our fellowship work.”
Five months into my fellowship, I’m certain that the best place to learn how to engineer great civic applications is in a newsroom. Working to create narratives that feed into a news cycle, address a wide audience and tell a clear story is an amazing challenge for any technologist.
What a fellow does during their Fellowship year continues to resonate after their 10 months conclude, as 2012 Knight-Mozilla Fellowship alumni Nicola Hughes, Laurian Gridinoc, and Dan Schultz write:
Nicola Hughes took a position as a data journalist at the Times of London after her fellowship ended. My time as a fellow has carried on in spirit,” she writes, because she learned how to be a “disruptive force” during her fellowship year. “I was recently asked to describe the best team I ever worked with,” Nicola writes, “I said the OpenNews fellows.”
Dan Schultz lists the nearly dozen projects he’s now involved in post-fellowship, all of them jump-started by his time as a fellow. “You will be oxymoronically established as both an outsider and an insider (so your perspective is priceless), and you will have had 10 months to show off what you can do. Following your passion at that point is as easy as breathing, unless you’re a fish.”
Everyone’s fellowship experience is unique, and the impact from it hits each person differently as well. But for everyone, becoming a Knight-Mozilla Fellow is a life-altering experience.
And now, it’s your turn: We’re looking for five people who love to code and want to make a difference to join us as 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows. The application is simple (just a few questions and a bunch of links to your best stuff), but there are only two short weeks left to apply: The application window closes August 17th. What are you waiting for?