We don’t know, but thanks to the Knight News Challenge, we’re going to find out.
Earlier this year, the good folks at the Knight Foundation gave us money to offer full scholarships to Medill’s graduate journalism program to people with strong backgrounds in computer programming. Geeks don’t usually apply to journalism schools, but Adrian Holovaty demonstrates regularly that someone with both journalism and technology skills can come up with ideas — and carry them off — that most of us wouldn’t even think of.
As soon as the grant was announced in May, the team at Medill started scrambling. We had just seven weeks from the date the grant was announced to the (extended) deadline to apply for admission to Medill in September or January.
Fortunately, the idea behind this grant was sufficiently novel that lots of Web sites mentioned it. And I’m pleased to report that the first two candidates have been admitted and awarded Knight News Challenge scholarships. They will both start in January.
One of the most interesting aspects of the experience so far has been to see the reaction to the idea of training programmers to be journalists. Here’s a sampling of the reaction and conversation:
- Boingboing.net: Turning coders into journalists
- Holovaty.com: A new journo-programmer scholarship
- Mattwaite.com: Journalists need|don’t need to learn programming
- And my favorite (apparently that’s me in the white lab coat!) ….
- Journalistopia.com: At the Medill School of Journalism’s new secret bio-lab
We’re actively recruiting now to find the next group of programmer/journalist scholarship winners. We have seven more scholarships to award in the next 2 1/2 years. We’re looking for programmer/developers who are interested in journalism and think it would be interesting to learn the craft of journalism at Medill. If they come through the program, what will they do after graduation? We really don’t know — but we sure are looking forward to finding out.