This is the second of three posts about the state of development in journalism, where we’re at with the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, and where we’re going. It caps off on Thursday with the announcement of the 2013 Knight-Mozilla Fellows, an announcement that then launches us into the Mozilla Festival in London, starting Friday
With the Mozilla Festival approaching in just two days, and the announcemnet of our 2013 Fellows happening tomorrow, it’s a nice moment to reflect on how far the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project has come in 2012 and where we’re going in 2013.
Writing this in the looming shadow of a trans-Atlantic flight to London for the Mozilla Festival, it’s actually pretty overwhelming just how far our project has transformed since I “thought out loud” about opportunites in the intersection of journalism and tech prior to last year’s Mozilla Festival. So it’s time for a little more thinking out loud, both about where we’ve been this year, and where we’re going next.
OpenNews 2012: there and back again
Back in February, we announced a new name and an “evolved” focus for the newly-christened Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project. The idea was to keep our Fellowship program intact, but to build out a much larger program dedicated to growing the community around coding and journalism. Here’s how we did:
Hack Days: We went into 2012 with a new initiative to sponsor, promote, and support hack days around the world that adopted journalistic themes. I firmly believe that if you want to grow the community around tech and journalism, you need to engage people in a way that demonstrates this is a place hackers, developers, and engineers want to play. Hack days are incredibly effective in doing that, and here as we approach the end of year, we will have helped sponsor more than 20 hack days around the world, with over 2000 participants.
Source: Throughout 2012, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with the talented Erin Kissane and Ryan Pitts to create Source, a website designed to be a centerpoint for the journo-code community. Launched last month after being in a public beta since the Summer, we’ve been able to collect looks at how news devs reacted to Hurricane Sandy, disections of election-related visualzations, and much, much more. Source is just getting started, and it’s already become a go-to, well, source.
Code Sprints: I announced our Code Sprint initiatives from the stage at the Hacks/Hackers Media Party in Buenos Aires Argentina, and I’m excited to say that last night, the first project to recieve funding from the project successfully went live. A collaboration between the techs at WNYC in New York and KPCC in Los Angeles, they built an open-source parser and embeddible map for the XML election data stream coming out of the California Secretary of State’s office. Used by multiple news organizations big and small, it’s exactly the kind of creative, collaborative, reusable, and back-end focused project that we envisioned the Code Sprints for. That’s one down, nine to go—with a rolling application process, what’s stopping you?
Fellowships: And of course, there’s the core of the OpenNews program—our Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. We placed five incredible people into five of the best newsrooms in the world and gave them an open mandate to hack, remix, and recreate news for the open web. They’ve filled code repos, gotten bylines, attended dozens of hack events, and generally made the most of their fellowship year. As they conclude their fellowships a little later this year, I’ll be posting more about what each of them did.
OpenNews 2013: learning on the horizon
Much of our gameplan for 2013 is more, more more. We have plenty more Code Sprints and Hack Days to fund, we’re placing eight fellows—tomorrow, we’re naming names—in newsrooms around the globe, and Source will continue to crank out new content and document the vibrant community of journalism coders.
But if you look back at the original OpenNews 2012 announcement, you’ll note that there’s one promise not yet fufilled: Learning. Learning. Back in the summer, I wrote a quick post announcing a team of “Learning Avengers” made up of some of the best minds in the journo-code community. We’ve laid out some good plans together, but it wasn’t until I was watching the Avengers on a flight back from Argentina that I realized something was missing: You can’t assemble the Avengers and not have a Nick Fury helping guide the team (comics folks, if I’ve totally messed that up, apologies—I’m a DC guy).
And so I’m excited to announce that I found that Nick Fury in Kio Stark, a professor at NYU’s ITP program, and a woman who is literally writing the book on informal learning. She’s getting the Avengers together to launch OpenNews learning big in 2013. The gameplan, in short, is awesome: We’re going to educate developers about how journalists work. How they use and interact with raw data, how they use visualizations, how they use mapping, and what they need to make all three of those more efficient and more informative.
In addition to the developer-focused learning iniatives our Avengers are overseeing, we’re starting to pilot Webmaker learing projects oriented towards journalists who want to learn basic coding skills. We’ll be testing out a new “hacktivity kit” at the Mozilla Festival this weekend. If you’re there and want to learn the basics, join in.
OpenNews Learning will be another part of the ecosystem we’re building around journalism and code, and we’re all excited to kick it off starting in early 2013.
I’m excited about EVERYTHING in 2013, and can barely wait to tell you about the new Fellows we have starting—but that will have to wait until tomorrow, as I have a flight to catch.
See you in London!