OpenNews: Elections Code Convening. Open your code with us!

This year has been a year of trying new things at OpenNews. One of the big things we’ve been doing is experimenting with ways of bringing newsroom developers together to open up projects together. We call them Code Convenings, and we’re opening up applications for our third Convening today.

The idea behind Code Convenings is pretty simple: we’ve found that often the thing holds code back from being open-sourced is just finding the time to do that last-mile abstraction work and creating first-class documentation. Code Convenings bring devs together for a couple days to do exactly that. We feed you, put you up in a hotel, and give you the time and space to do the work that’s necessary to get some great code out.

Our first code convening was in Portland Oregon this spring, and resulted in four great projects being opened up—since then, they’ve been used and reused numerous times. Our second code convening brought together folks to collaborate on a single code base, resulting in the creation of the California Civic Data Coalition. We considered both these convenings prototypes: opportunities to try things out with a reduced number of variables. As a result, we invited folks to take part, but kept the lead-up quiet—no need to promote while we were still figuring things out. Well, we think we’ve got this relatively figured now, so we’re going public for the last Code Convening of the year.

We’re hosting an OpenNews Code Convening in New York City November 13 & 14, and we want your news developers to take part. This will be coming soon after the midterm elections in the United States, and so we’ve chosen “Elections” as the organizing theme of this convening. If your newsroom has been working on some interesting code this election cycle, that you’d like an opportunity to open up to the larger journalism code community, you should apply.

We’re moving pretty quickly here: The application opens today and closes on October 17. We’ll be selecting a maximum of five projects, and will notify folks if theirs have been chosen by October 21. You’ll need to commit two people or, if you can only send one, work with us to find a good partner) to the two days of the convening, and we’ll cover food and travel. It will be so awesome.

This is a great opportunity to get code out into the world: take it!

OpenNews: Breaking and Fixing (and one day left to apply)

They say that news “breaks.” And when they do, it conjures images of daybreak, shedding new light on the world. But news also breaks things apart: our understanding, our assumptions, how we thought the world was. This week feels a lot like that.

When we talk about the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships—applications for which close tomorrow night—we talk often about the experience of being in the room when news breaks.

But working in journalism isn’t just about being around when things break, it’s about staying in that room as the real work begins. Because news isn’t simply about breaking things: At its best, it is about fixing, about healing, about reaching understanding.

Looking at news break this week it’s clear that understanding is no longer achieved through the printed page or the broadcast booth—things move too quickly for that now. From parsing the Snowden documents to covering the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, real understanding now comes in new ways.

Those new ways mean bringing new skills into newsrooms and with those skills new ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds. It means experimenting with new forms of storytelling and new tools on the backend. It means collaboration, sharing, and working in the open.

This is what Knight-Mozilla Fellows do every day. And it’s why you should apply to join their ranks in 2015. If you love to build things on the web, if you’re a creative thinker who solves problems in code, if you’re a civic hacker, a data scientist, a web designer, or just a self-taught coder, join us.

As a Fellow, you will do many things: work in some of the best newsrooms in the world, have colleagues that will challenge and champion you in equal measures, write open-source code that gets used by thousands. But most important is helping bring understanding to a world that desperately needs it.

But it’s almost too late to apply. Deadline is tomorrow, Saturday, August 16, at midnight Eastern. Don’t hesitate. Change the world. Apply.

OpenNews: Last week to apply, a look at the total Fellowship package

This is the final week to apply to become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. The application closes at the stroke of midnight Eastern time, Saturday August 16.

The last few weeks, we’ve had our news partners and our current Fellows make the case for why YOU should apply to become a Knight-Mozilla Fellow.

Becoming a Knight-Mozilla Fellow is a thrilling opportunity, one that will plunge you head-first into the problemsets of journalism, and allow you to experiment and build compelling solutions. We tell our Fellows that they should “follow your passions” in approaching their builds and projects.

But those passions require time, and moving to a new city (Fellows live in the city their host newsroom is located in) requires real dedication. As a result, being a Fellow is an adventure, but it’s also a commitment: of thought, of talent, and of time.

At OpenNews, we recognize that commitment and work to live up to it by offering a generous stipend and significant supplements to it that reflect the needs of the lives our Fellows lead.

In addition to the $60,000 Fellowship stipend, we offer a series of supplements to help offset the cost of housing, healthcare, moving, and more:

  • Partner and Children: We know that not everyone that writes code is single. And we want your partner and children to share the adventures of your Fellowship with you. All of our supplements scale and adapt to your living situation. We even offer a supplement to help cover the cost of childcare.
  • Housing: Moving to a new city for your Fellowship is a big deal, and so we want to help by covering much of your moving costs as well as offering a supplement for your rent.
  • 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 so 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 and we help to cover much of their travel. We even help to book it.

We want the year that you are a Knight-Mozilla Fellow to be amazing. We want you to make things that last long beyond your Fellowship year. We know that the first step on that is knowing that you’re taken care of during your Fellowship year, and we do our best to make sure you are.

The end of this week—midnight eastern Saturday night—is all that’s left to apply. Don’t hesistate: make the commitment to apply.

OpenNews: One week to apply, our newsroom partners make the case

Becoming a Knight-Mozilla Fellow means being embedded in some of the best news organizations in the world. That means you won’t just be in the room when news breaks, you’ll be creating compelling new ways to break it. You won’t just have colleagues to learn from, but peers excited to learn from you too. And you won’t just be another set of hands in the newsroom—you’ll be experimenting, trying new things, and tackling major newsroom projects.

The deadline to apply to become a 2015 Fellow is August 16, just a week away, and the newsrooms that are partnering with us—the Guardian, NPR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Vox Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and La Nacion in Buenos Aires—have articulated the opportunities fellows will have if they’re embedded with them. At the Guardian in London, incoming Executive Editor of Digital Aron Pilhofer sees “the unique vantage point” of a Knight-Mozilla Fellow:

You will be fully part of the London newsroom, able to collaborate with reporters, editors, graphics editors, interactive developers, designers and more. You’ll also have the ability to collaborate with business-side teams as well, including the Guardian’s world class digital development, analytics and product teams.

But as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, your goal isn’t just to improve the Guardian; it’s to improve journalism as a whole, with one of the world’s most important newsrooms as your laboratory.

NPR wants a fellow to join their unique hybrid Visuals team in Washington, D.C. For Brian Boyer, the NPR Visuals editor, the fellow will be a teammate—plus:

You’ll be our teammate: making stuff with us, learning what we’ve learned, teaching us what you know and what you’re learning elsewhere during your fellowship year.

The Washington Post and the New York Times are teaming up with Mozilla and OpenNews to build a next-generation community platform for news. As the Washington Post’s Greg Barber writes, they’re bringing two Knight-Mozilla fellows into the New York-based team as well:

One thing we know for sure is that we want Knight-Mozilla Fellows with us, doing what they do best: experimenting and breaking boundaries. We want fellows to push the work our core team is doing in new directions, to think of things we haven’t, to be independent operators within this deeply collaborative project.

Vox Media sees their fellow as someone that can bridge their seven media sites and help “open source the elements that would be beneficial to the larger journalism community.” Writes Chief Product Officer Trei Brundrett:

We have benefited greatly from open source as we have aggressively built a media company from scratch. Now we’re eager to give back as an active member of the OpenNews community. This year at our hack week, VAX, we kicked off the process by making it easier for our teams to share our work with the open news community and releasing some code, but there is still much left to do. We want you to help us shape that commitment.

The Center for Investigative Reporting is looking for someone who “loves visual data” to help bolster their dataviz work. Writes Jennifer LaFleur, CIR’s Senior Editor for Data Journalism:

We work with many graphic designers and have featured their incredible work. But we’ve never had anyone dedicated to making our reporting and data analysis really shine. When it comes to news apps, we’ve been pretty good at faking it, but we know that we can really up our game.

We need to be able to tell readers things they don’t already know and are actually worth knowing. We need your help to communicate that information more effectively. We’ll challenge you to help users understand complex concepts and help us understand the best way to distill millions of relevant records into a compelling presentation.

In Buenos Aires, La Nacion’s data team is “motivated by the possibility to produce changes with our work, using technology to open data, especially in a country where there is no transparency law and with high levels of corruption,” explains data manager Momi Peralta Ramos. Their fellow would join their team in opening datasets and making them accessible to the Argentinian people. As their whole team explains in a subtitled video:

The opportunity to work with these incredible news organizations is yours. If you love to code and want to spend 10 months deeply immersed in the problem-sets of journalism, then apply now.

OpenNews: So what is the Fellowship experience like anyway?

We are under two weeks until the end of our search for our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows. If you love to code and want to spend ten months having an impact in journalism, you should apply.

Of course, you may have questions about what being a fellow is actually *like*, and so the last two weeks, our current Fellows have written about their experiences. Each experience—like each one of our fellows—is different, and the takeaways are unique. The Knight-Mozilla Fellowships are about writing great open-source code, but they are also about so much more. And what that is, is up to you.

Harlo Holmes, who has spent her fellowship year at the New York Times likens becoming a fellow to “Scrooge McDuck taking a swim in his vault.” Except in this case, the vault isn’t filled with money but instead “a veritable treasure trove of code libraries, frankenstein-y demos and PoCs, and wacky ideas.”

Ben Chartoff’s fellowship at the Washington Post has been all about learning:

I know so much more than I did half a year ago, and have so many more people and communities I can learn from. I may not be in school anymore, but I’m certainly a student. Today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my career, I will be learning every day, and I’m figuring out out how to life-long-learn because of this stupendous, magical, yes-it’s-really-that-great fellowship

For Gabriella Rodriguez, her fellowship at La Nacion—which involved moving her entire family of four from Portland, Oregon to Buenos Aires, Argentina—has been “una aventura!" Gaba has been focused on bringing more voices into journalism, she explains in Spanish, through her work on the VozData project, and by organizing “cafés de DATA” with the civic hacker community across the Rio de la Plata in Montevideo, Uruquay.

Brian Jacobs applied to become a Knight-Mozilla Fellow two years in a row, and his second time was the lucky one, landing him a fellowship at ProPublica in New York. His time as a fellow has been about doing the unexpected:

I’m working on a project that involves visualizing NASA data, integrating with repositories of satellite imagery, processing it in Photoshop, in the command-line, making it interactive in a news application, helping to create what I hope will be something really beautiful and worthwhile to explore. Working with data from space is basically the coolest thing I could be doing right now. Did I expect to be doing this? Not really. All I did was follow my interests, because I have less of a job description and more of a general mandate to work with incredibly smart people and make interesting things.

Marcos Vanetta moved from Buenos Aires to Austin, Texas for his fellowship year at the Texas Tribune. His first time in America, and his first time in a newsroom, he has adapted quickly. He writes in Spanish that after only four months, he’s writing software and participating in projects that are visited by thousands of people every day.

Aurelia Moser, who has had a joint East African fellowship with both Ushahidi and Internews Kenya, has juggled her collaboration with news partners, fellows, and many others in the journalism code community (the workflow has been tricky enough that she’s managing it with Github issues). And it’s embracing working in the open that has impacted her fellowship year the most:

Some of the more tacit benefits are nearly impossible to articulate without being gushy. It’s the stranger famery you’ll experience in the news community that clashes with your impulse to imposter syndrome; the kind where you’ll get requests to collaborate on projects from strangers instead of just your friends. Pre-fellowship, I never really had comments on my Github projects and my public code persona was pretty weak; 5 months in, I get regular email about blog posts I’ve written and repos I’ve open-sourced.

Each of our current fellows has had a singular experience. They have learned more about journalism, more about their coding skills, and more about working with others, and about themselves. As Ben Chartoff says in his post, “This fellowship has already changed my life.”

And, a year ago, each of them was were where you are right now: Wondering if they should apply, wondering what it would mean to their lives. They know the answer now because they applied. You have until midnight Eastern August 16 to find out for yourself.

OpenNews: Why Develop in the Newsroom 2015 (part two)

This week, as part of our search for our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows, who spend 10 months writing open code in the newsroom, we have asked others that develop in the newsroom why they do what they do.

The answers—we highlighted a couple on Wednesday—are still flowing in, but wanted to touch on two great ones, both from members of the team at Vox Media.

Lauren Rabaino, a product manager at Vox, outlines ten compelling reasons to write code in journalism. One hits on the fact that, in journalism, you’re constantly having to learn new things:

In order to execute on products that work, you have to force yourself to learn about processes and history and key players for topics you previously knew nothing about. Working in a newsroom with journalists is like going back to school, but more fun (there’s often a lot more cursing and whiskey and no tests except whether you’ve met the user’s needs).

Another of Lauren’s reasons hits hard at why *I* do this work: the ability to solve new problems:

The information industry has come far in recent years in evolving how we do storytelling in a digital world, but there’s still so much more to do, so much more progress to make, so many more problems to solve. This is a world that has immense and ever-growing potential at building the kinds of information solutions that help people live richer, more informed lives. And you can be a part of that. You can shape that. You can lead that. We need more leaders in this space.

For Ryan Mark, who recently joined the Vox team after a long stint developing at the Chicago Tribune, coding in journalism is personal:

I build for news because I’m building for myself. News and information, learning and knowledge is an extremely important part of my life. The free flow of knowledge that the internet has made possible has brought me happiness, wonder and purpose. I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it.

The application to apply to become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow is open until August 16. If you love to code, want to learn new things, challenge yourself, and help make information more open, you should apply today.

OpenNews: Why Develop in the Newsroom? 2015 Remix.

One month from today, August 16, the search for our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows will come to a close. Knight-Mozilla Fellows do amazing work—they spend 10 months embedded in newsrooms writing code to help solve journalistic problems—but they don’t do that work alone. When you become a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, you join two communities: a community of fellows (both your peers and alumn from the program), and a community of developers working in the newsroom.

To mark this final month of our 2015 Fellowship search, we’ve invited a lot of voices to talk about their experiences coding in the newsroom. Later in the month you’ll hear from our fellows (both current and past) and our news parnters as well. But this week we’re going to hear from the community of developers currently doing this work in newsrooms big and small around the world.

The developer community in journalism is a dynamic one, and there isn’t one single reason anyone decides to start coding in a newsroom instead of a startup or in the enterprise. Instead, developers start coding in newsrooms for all sorts of reasons.

This week (as we’ve done in the past), we’ve asked developers to share their reasons and experiences with you. These stories—we’ll share a few a day—are wonderful; each one a unique argument to join a singular community.

For Jeremy Bowers, a developer at the New York Times, journalism offers something different than traditional coding jobs. He explains:

We’ve got soul.

We’ve got a mission.

We’re self-critical.

We’ve got stacks of interesting structured data aching to be investigated and summarized. Our reporters are staring down the federal government, tracking people who are otherwise invisible and watching the epidemics most people don’t even know about.

Aaron Williams, who codes at the Center for Investigative Reporting, echoes Bowers when he says that, in traditional programming, “it’s not often the code you write influences the politics of the community.” But, Williams also adds:

I develop in a newsroom because, honestly, it’s just plain fun.

On any given day you may have to write a web crawler to harvest crime logs from your local law enforcement agency or use Mechanical Turk to crowdsource analysis of PDFs you received from a public records request.

On other days you’ll need a better map than Google offers and end up making creating your own slippy map tile set. Or you may start picking up libraries like pandas and SPSS to do some serious data analysis on a 25 GB data dump you’re trying to clean in another Terminal window.

Needless to say, you’ll stay busy and you’ll become a better developer than you ever thought.

Have fun and change the world while you do it: Become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow by applying today.

PS. if you’re a developer in the newsroom and want to contribute your voice to this collection as well, just let me know.

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 Guardian
  • The Washington Post
  • La Nacion
  • Vox Media
  • 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.

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

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

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 You can find him in a rock & roll concert or at your closest hackathon. Follow him @malev or at

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.