The first two “journalist-programmers” — experienced Web developers who won Knight News Challenge scholarships to attend the one-year master’s program at the Medill School of Journalism — will start their studies here at Northwestern University in just a few weeks. Let me tell you a little bit about them — and, in the process, remind folks that we’re looking for more programmers who are interested in studying journalism and exploring ways they might apply their technology skills to the media world.
Brian Boyer is an experienced Web developer and software architect who most recently served as a co-founder of Daixo, a company that built medical-records software for doctors’ offices. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he earned a BS in computer science in 2000. His personal blog focuses mostly on food and travel, two of his passions. One post provides his thoughts on the intersection of journalism and technology in the digital age. Says Brian: “The networked information age is the single most change-driven era in human history. I intend to participate loudly.”
Ryan Mark most recently has served as technology director for ZapTel Corp., a site that sells prepaid long-distance phone cards. Earlier this year, ZapTel won a 2007 Small Business Award from PC Magazine for its effective application of technology. Ryan is a 2004 graduate of Augustana College, where he earned a BA in computer science. “I’m excited at the prospect of learning and working in the field of journalism, a field that I have a great interest in,” Ryan says. “It’s wonderful that I will be able to bring my love of technology and experience with me. I’m looking forward to working with some great people, finding inspiration and some new ideas in this program.”
If you’re a programmer or Web developer who’s interested in journalism and media, or if you know someone who is, please take a few minutes to learn more about the Knight scholarships and about the Medill master’s degree program. We’re looking for skilled coders who want to explore ways of applying technology to improve journalism, create a better-informed public, invent new forms of storytelling or build new media products.
Medill’s master’s program is an intensive, one-year course of study. To win a scholarship, you’ll need to meet Medill’s normal admissions standards. Accepted applicants can win full or partial scholarships as well as stipends to cover living expenses. You can apply online and start your studies in June 2008, September 2008 or January 2009. The next application deadline (for admission in June or September of 2008) is January 15, but we are happy to consider applications submitted after that date.
What might someone do with programming skills and a journalism degree? That’s up to you, but here are a few thought-starters:
- News organizations are discovering that database-driven applications are very popular on the Web;
- There are new opportunities to use technology for effective storytelling;
- Adrian Holovaty has proven that someone with journalism and programming skills can produce innovative journalism, serve the public and even win funding (also from the Knight News Challenge) to start EveryBlock.com, a startup focusing on relevant, useful local data.