OpenNews: Announcing Source Jobs

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.

The listings are lightweight: a one-sentence job descriptions and a link to the full listing on an external site. They’re also self-serve. Today we’ve also opened up an organizational backend on Source so news orgs can list their own jobs. Erin Kissane explains how to get the keys to your organization page on the official announcement.

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.

OpenNews: Kicking 2014 Off Early

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!

OpenNews: Meet our 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows

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.

OpenNews: Ascent Stage

"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.

Let’s do this.

OpenNews: Eleven Seconds

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”

Eleven seconds.

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.

OpenNews: Looking vs Leaping

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.

Our five fellows will spend the ten months of their fellowship embedded in some of the best news organizations in the world: The New York Times, ProPublica, the Texas Tribune, La Nacion, and (in a joint fellowship) Ushahidi and Internews Kenya. There, you’ll have the opportunity to develop next-generation tools that are tempered in the real-world fires of breaking news. You’ll be in the room when news breaks and you’ll write code to react to it. You’ll create libraries and tools that will shape reporting on the world around you. You’ll write code that makes a difference. 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.

If you want to scrape and analyze data, leap.

If you want to build applications that help people learn about the world they live in, leap.

If you want to speak truth to power, strengthen civic engagement, and engage communities? Leap.

The time for looking is done. If you want to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow, it’s time to leap.

OpenNews: The Knight-Mozilla Globetrotters

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
  • SXSW, Austin
  • Malofiej (Infographic World Summit), Pamplona
  • Eyeo, Minneapolis
  • Data Live, Dundee Scotland,
  • Big Data, Big Money, and You, NYC/Stanford
  • Webstock, New Zealand
  • BBC Connected Studios, London
  • Investigative News Iconathon, New York
  • NICAR, Nashville
  • inkLink, Budapest
  • 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
  • DataHarvest, Brussels
  • re:publica, Berlin
  • Governing Algorthms, New York
  • Periodismo de datos, Barcelona
  • IRE, San Antonio, TX
  • BBC Data Day, London
  • OHM: Observe Hack Make, Alkmaar, Netherlands
  • CryptoCat Hackathon, New York

In addition to these trips (and many more not on the list), we bring all our Fellows to “tentpole” events, like a group onboarding trip at the start of the Fellowship (last years was at the MIT Media Lab), the Mozilla Festival in London, the Knight-MIT Civic Media Conference, and the Hacks/Hackers Media Party in Buenos Aires.

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!

OpenNews: With four days left to apply, a look at Fellowship benefits.

We’re counting down the days to the end of the 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellowship search. As of today, just four days remain—the window closes at midnight Eastern, this Saturday August 17th. If you’re a developer who wants to make a difference in the world by spending 10 months creating open-source code for journalism, apply today.

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:

  • We asked more than a dozen newsroom developers “Why Develop in the Newsroom?” (part one / part two). Each answer is revealing and makes a convincing case for coding in news. In answering the question, Derek Willis, who builds political and election-related applications and APIs at the New York Times, makes the case for journalism hacking and civic engagement:

    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.”

  • Finally, the news organizations hosting our 2014 Fellows wrote about the opportunities for Fellows inside their organizations. Each organization documented the opportunity for their Fellow to engage in unique journalistic problemsets:

    • 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.

OpenNews: Our 2014 News Partners make the case

This is it. There’s only one week remaining to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. If you love to code, want to make a difference in journalism, and want to see the world while you do it you only have until August 17th to apply.

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.

Eva Constantaras at Internews Kenya explains the opportunity for a Knight-Mozilla Fellow in 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. 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.

Heather Leason at Ushahidi explains the opportunity for a fellow similarly, though Ushahidi’s focus remains global:

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.

Back in New York City, at the nonprofit investigative news outlet ProPublica, news app developer Al Shaw explains “why you should be our 2014 OpenNews Fellow (and join the epic team of awesomeness)”:

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.

At the Texas Tribune, a local reporting powerhouse, Director of Technology Travis Swicegood makes his pitch for a Fellow by focusing on the the local opportunties in Austin, Texas:

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”

The time is now. One week remains—if you love to code and want to change the world apply now to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. If you have last-minute questions about the fellowship, we have updated our FAQ, we’ll be hosting another live Q&A on our OpenNews Community Call on Wednesday August 14, and you can always drop us a line or ping us on Twitter. Don’t hesitate to be in touch.

But more than anything: Apply now.

OpenNews: Knight-Mozilla Fellowships: “What do you mean, I get to do whatever I want?”

The 2013 Knight-Mozilla Fellows at the MIT Media Lab. Photo by Laurian Gridinoc

The question in the title of this post is posed at the top of Knight-Mozilla Fellow’s Stijn Debrouwere’s blog post about his time as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow. Every Knight-Mozilla Fellow experiences their 10 months as a fellow differently, in part because the mandate we give our fellows is as broad as Stijn says: We want our fellows to choose their own adventure, to create their own pathways, and to do the groundbreaking work that they want to do. Sound good? This can be you next year if you apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. For two weeks, our current fellows have been blogging about their experiences as Knight-Mozilla Fellows. Last week, I rounded up the posts of four of our fellows (and one alum), and this week three more wrote about their experiences, plus two alum.

How does a Knight-Mozilla Fellowship work? Stijn, who is spending his Fellowship year at the Guardian in London, explains in his blog post:

Here’s how an OpenNews fellowship like mine works: work on whatever with whoever, learn anything, and talk about it wherever. It’s the sweetest gig ever invented, but it’s also a bit of a brain melt.

For Mike Tigas, who has been working at ProPublica in New York, the diverse makeup of his fellow Fellows has made for unique collaborations:

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.”

Friedrich Lindenberg, working in Hamburg with Spiegel Online, joined the Fellowship from a background of civic hacking. It’s the opportunities to hone the skills he came to the Fellowship with that’s been important to him:

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.”

  • Laurian Gridinoc writes a lengthy post looking back at his 10 months as a fellow—a time that, he says, ended “abruptly,” last October. “I say abruptly because that’s how it felt, for the past months I was flying everywhere, coding for BBC from airports and then I found myself practically grounded.” He’s flying again, as a member of the team at the groundbreaking interactive firm Information Architects.

  • 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?

OpenNews: Fellowships Five Ways

Our 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellowship search is in full swing—August 17 is the last day to apply. Being a Knight-Mozilla Fellow is a unique experience—you travel the world writing code that matters, collaborate with some of the best news organizations on the planet, and build lasting friendships with your fellow fellows. We invite our Knight-Mozilla Fellows to choose their own adventure—to create an experience that is singular to them, and that helps move journalism forward in ways that they truly want to engage. As a result, everyone’s fellowship experience is different and capturing them in a simple pitch can be hard, so last week and this week we’ve asked our current and former fellows to write about their experience.

For Noah Veltman, who is spending his fellowship year at the BBC, having moved from the Bay Area to London, he hits on the moment “when the awesome craziness of my OpenNews fellowship sank in”:

I was on my way home after my first day at BBC headquarters, looking around the subway car, and I realized that fully half of the passengers were reading BBC News on their phones. Whoa. Since then, I’ve been in the newsroom when Pope Benedict resigned, when Margaret Thatcher died, and when the bombs went off in Boston. I learn so much every day that my head is spinning by lunchtime. 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, who joined the Boston Globe as a Fellow while pursuing her PhD in Media Studies from the University of Michigan, writes about the opportunities “that you may not easily find in academia”—including the “freedom and flexibility to follow where your curisosity leads.”

Although Fellows often offer a helping hand to our hosts, we are not obliged to commit to any task in the newsrooms, because all our funding is from OpenNews. This independence lets us pursue our own interests without being bound by routine work that regular employees have to undertake. Meanwhile, we are encouraged to work with other Fellows and organizations. Right now, I am working with two other Fellows, Stijn Debrouwere and Brian Abelson, on measuring news impact and contributing my knowledge to ProPublica on a project related to Internet policy. 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.

Down in Buenos Aires, Manuel Aristaran, writes about his move from a team building Argentina’s first cubesat satellite to the offices of La Nacion. The ability to collaborate across newsrooms and borders was appealing to Manuel. "As an OpenNews fellow, you’ll be part of a large network of journalists and programmers interested in the media and eager to share experiences and collaborate on a diverse array of projects," he writes. For Manuel, that meant the tool he created, Tabula, saw almost instant adoption:

That was the case of Tabula, an open source tool that was created out of the combination of a personal project and previous work by ProPublica one of the OpenNews media partners this and next year.

I started the project earlier this year and soon after decided to join forces with ProPublica, who was working on a similar tool. After announcing it on Source (the official web site for the OpenNews program), Tabula was adopted by editors and activists around the world that need to use the data sets trapped within PDF files.

Brian Abelson, who has been spending his Fellowship year doing a deep dive analyzing news metrics at the New York Times, writes about his Fellowship experience after applying at “literally the last second.”

Since then, I’ve undergone a transformation that is no less than miraculous. In my five-plus months as a fellow I’ve dove deep into the technical and intellectual challenges of impact measurement, reading as much as I could find on the topic, experimenting with the creation of metrics for News Apps, speaking at conferences, and conversing with the brightest minds in the field. I have been continually humbled at the many people working on this problem for no other reason than they think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve also found support in the many innovators and brainiacs I work with at the New York Times and the seven incredible people I’ve shared this journey with.

In this time, I’ve gone from a novice coder with some knowledge of stats to someone who regularly writes map-reduce jobs over terabytes of data (trust me, if you’re a data nerd, the New York Times is your perverse playground). The freedom of the fellowship has also allowed me to pursue more whimsical projects like building haikubots, experimenting with data sonification, and writing oh-so-many twitter trolls. I’ve also had the privilege of working with my friends in csv soundsystem to build treasury.io - a daily data feed for the U.S. Treasury.

Finally, 2012 Fellowship Alum Mark Boas, who has leveraged one of his fellowship projects into the startup Hyperaudio (which is part of Mozilla’s WebFWD accelerator class this summer), looks back on his year and writes:

It’s hard to imagine the adrenalin rush you get when your interactive goes live in front of the world, a world that is actually watching, but it makes you want to do it over and over again.

There you have it: Five different paths along a Fellowship year. The freedom to experiment, to try new things, to collaborate; they are all baked into the design of the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. Do you love to code? Do you want to find out why Manuel Aristaran writes that “Being a Knight-Mozilla Fellow is the best thing that can happen to you”? Then apply today. The days to apply are running out: Get your application in before August 17.

OpenNews: Why Develop in the Newsroom (part 2)

The journalism development community is filled with incredible people. This community of people—broadly described as “news developers” come from different backgrounds, have different areas of expertise, and impact journalism in different ways. But all of them are fascinating, and all offer compelling arguments for why other talented coders should join them in building new forms of journalism on the web.

This week, we’ve been asking some of the leaders of this community to explain why they do what they do. This is part two of a roundup of posts from folks answering the simple question: “Why Develop in the Newsroom?” Part one was posted on Wednesday. We’re doing this because we’re looking for people who love to code to join the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project as 2014 Fellows. As a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, you’ll spend 10 months in some of the best newsrooms in the world working on your own answer to the question we’ve asked people to answer this week.

Brian Boyer, who heads the News Applications team at National Public Radio, explains that “after nearly a decade in startups and corporate life, I grew tired of the products I was making.” He entered journalism and, he explains, the work spoke to him:

In my previous life I enjoyed the problem solving, the creativity, the process of making software. Programming is a fun and challenging career and getting to solve puzzles every day is pretty neat. But to what end? Making software to make money for people who have money to make software?

The day’s story could be a safety database or a voting guide or a warning system for floods – and for each, we ask “Who are our users? What are their needs?” We make software with a purpose, for people. The work you do in a newsroom helps people live their lives and participate in society.

Tasneem Raja, interactive editor at Mother Jones, writes about moving from traditional journalism to news applications because “I wanted to learn new tools and techniques for getting them online and in public, analyzing them at scale, and publishing the stories inside in whatever format would get the point across best.”

Ted Han, the developer on the DocumentCloud project, gives an account of using DocumentCloud to help get leaked documents onto the internet. News applications like Document Cloud are the start of something new, Han says:

Projects like DocumentCloud are part of an ecosystem of tools which have never before existed in journalism. Devs on these projects can help make journalists more powerful and dangerous, and information better accessible to citizens. While a vanguard has already proceeded us (people like Simon Willison and Adrian Holovaty of Django fame, David Nolen and Mike Bostock of the NYT, or DocumentCloud’s own emeritus Jeremy Ashkenas), there are so many more ways that developers can help improve the news and the civic sphere. Our forbearers have blazed a trail, but there’s still a civilization to build.

Ben Welsh, a database producer at the Los Angeles Times, writes about the opportunities available in journalism in an appeal straight to computer programmers:

Computer programmers, I believe you have it in you. You’re a curious, inventive, free-thinking lot. And there’s a way you can apply yourself that is more morally ambitious than a ridiculously violent video game or an empty money chase.

That is speaking truth to power. And it’s a career path that, with your skills, is so open to you today it might be shocking.

Greg Linch, who manages data and tech projects at the Washington Post, breaks down the “near limitless opportunities to solve interesting problems” in news. “Whether they’re hard journalistic problems or even hard computer science problems,” he says, “I’m ridiculously excited just thinking of all the possibilities.”

Ryan Pitts, who ran web development at The Spokesman-Review, and now works on data tools for CensusReporter (and is the developer of our own project, Source), tells an amazing story of the night code he wrote helped a elderly woman survive a snowstorm:

It still breaks my heart in all sorts of ways. I’m not so good at building things with my hands and I’m too spooked to change the oil in my own car, but this one time I made a thing on the internet that brought two human beings together, and it made both of their lives better.

I still chase after that feeling. I get to do that every day.

Jacqui Maher, assistant editor of interactive news at the New York Times, gives a bullet-pointed list of the challenges she thinks engage developers in the newsroom. In the end, she makes the case as simply as I’ve ever seen: “Develop in the newsroom because you like challenges that come with rewards. Do it because you’ll love it.”

Loving what you do is important; passion counts. Developing in the newsroom is a chance for people that love to code to make a real impact on the world. And in 2014 we are looking for five people to spend ten months doing exactly that. As Knight-Mozilla Fellows you get to engage in the real challenges of journalism, get to spend time in the best newsrooms in the world, and get to write open-source code that makes an impact on the news and the world at large. Are you ready? Apply today.

PS. In New York City and curious to learn more about the fellowships? We’ll be holding an infosession next Friday, July 26 in Brooklyn. Come join us.

OpenNews: Why Develop in the Newsroom (part 1)

One month from today, our search for our 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows come to a close. In the thirty days between now and then, news will break that will change the way you understand the world around you. It may be local, it may be national, it may have global reach. As with most news, you don’t know it’s coming until it’s upon you, and the way it breaks is unpredictable. That immediacy and unpredictability poses a challenge for the talented developers that work in newsrooms, but they wake up every day ready to face it.

As we talk with people about the fellowships, one question keeps coming up: I’m a talented coder—why develop in the newsroom? So this week, one month out from our deadline to apply, we’ve posed that very question to people who do this for a living. Each answer is unique, and worth a full read on its own—but a few important callouts are featured here.

For Derek Willis, who works on political and election-related applications and APIs New York Times, journalism offered “a beautiful opportunity, an underbelly filled with ever-changing stories and challenges, and a chance to make an impact beyond the web.” Willis continues:

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.

Miranda Mulligan, who heads up the KnightLab at Northwestern University, sees opportunity for innovation in news today: “There are few moments in time more innovative, entrepreneurial and exciting than right now in the news industry,” she writes.

Chris Keller, a data journalist and technologist for Southen California Public Radio, has found that newsroom development has taught him lessons beyond the code itself:

These lessons have very little to do with classes, functions and syntax and everything to do with helping to reinforce the core mission of journalism: hold those in power accountable, help people make sense of the world around them and celebrate their place in it.

Alan Palazzolo, who codes at the local news organization MinnPost, came into the newsroom after being a more traditional developer. It was the growing journalism-code community’s commitment to open-source that attracted him: “One of the biggest things that drew me to the newsroom was seeing some of the amazing code that folks were producing in newsrooms and putting up on Github,” Palazzolo explains.

Michelle Minkoff, a journalist-programmer at the Associated Press, writes an extensive lists of reasons to develop in the newsroom. One is the colleagues you’ll find in the newsroom itself:

Journalists are some of the most interesting personalities I know — people who literally learn, and impart that knowledge to others, for a living. The subject matter is always shifting, and never boring, so the people aren’t boring. Your colleagues will provide fascinating conversation, and stretch your mind. They’ll embrace your eccentricities if you embrace theirs. Life is more fun this way.

Tiff Fehr, a UX engineer at the New York Times, compares newsrooms to startups and finds that “lack of diversity in tech startups is a ongoing challenge.” Working in news, Fehr writes, “means being part of an industry that currently does a better job discussing, valuing and hiring diverse backgrounds and people.”

Finally, the entire development team at ProPublica wrote lengthy and GIF-laden argument for coding in the newsroom. Every one of their points makes a clear case, but the most powerful is the simplest:

Why not use your powers for good? Make apps that hold doctors accountable, show inequality in schools and reverse-engineer political targeting. Help readers make sure the nursing home they’re considering doesn’t have years and years of deficiencies. Or help voters look up whether their representative is for or against SOPA and PIPA. Let other journalists and researchers easily see how nonprofits spent their money.

These are just a few of the reasons to write code in the newsroom. We’ll excerpt more pieces as the week progresses.

As a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow, as you spend 10 months at some of the greatest news organizations in the world, writing code, hacking with collaborators, and helping to push journalism forward, you’ll answer this question in your own way. So apply today—on August 17th, the window to apply closes for good.

PS. If you’re in New York City next Friday, we’re hosting an in-person infosession about the fellowships and you should totally come.

OpenNews: Coding While History Happens

This week in Texas, State Senator Wendy Davis successfully stopped an anti-abortion law from passing by filibustering in the statehouse for 11 hours. For those unfamiliar (or simply not paying attention this week) it means that she stood, unassisted, and spoke for 11 hours in the hopes of running out the clock on a vote that had to happen before midnight. As it turned out, it was not her that ended up stalling the vote past midnight, but the voices of thousands that filled the galleries as the filibuster wore on, brought to the statehouse by organizers, word of mouth and by watching the filibuster via the livestream run by the Texas Tribune.

Today on Source, Travis Swicegood, the head of technology for the Texas Tribune, writes about how he and his team kept the servers up and running as 200,000 people watched the events in Texas play out. As has been noted a lot this week, the major news networks didn’t cover the filibuster live—the sole window into the political drama playing out in Texas was the Texas Tribune’s stream.

There’s never been a more important moment for digital skills in journalism than right now. Whether it’s to keep infrastructure humming like in Texas or to display the leaked documents that exposed the NSA’s vast metadata collection, which is how the Document Cloud project got put to use a few weeks back. Whenever there’s an election, talented newsroom developers help to visualize the leadup, and the results. News developers are creating new ways to understand the world—and transforming it in the process.

While some developers concentrate on new ways to share ever-shorter video clips, the developers working in the newsroom are helping the world to better understand itself. This is why the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships are so exciting: they allow coders curious about the world of journalism to engage in it for 10 month stints at some of the best news organizations in the world. Fellows are given free rein to experiment and try new things, to be in the room when news breaks, and to collaborate and code for a better tomorrow.

We’re accepting applications to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow now, and the Texas Tribune is one of our six newsroom hosts next year. We couldn’t be more proud of the work they’ve done, and more happy to be a part of the community of news developers at this turning point in history. Join us by applying today.