Knight-Mozilla OpenNews to Offer Source for Journalism Code, Community

    by Dan Sinker
    June 19, 2012

    Way back in November, as the ideas that led to Knight-Mozilla’s OpenNews relaunch were starting to be articulated, I wrote about the need for something to “shine a spotlight” on the code being written in journalism:

    I think that there’s real work to be done in advocating for, shining a spotlight on, and helping to generate community around the code that’s being written in journalism. Because the more community that can be built, the better the code is and the better off journalism is because of it.

    Well, since earlier this year, that’s what we’ve been working on: a website called Source that will highlight the code being written in journalism and the developers and teams making it happen.

    We’ll be showing Source itself off soon. (We have an ambitious goal of a beta preview at the Knight-MIT Civic Media conference), but I wanted to introduce the team, some of the ideas, and throw open the floodgates for your submissions.



    The Source team

    Heading up the editorial side of Source is Erin Kissane, the author of “Elements of Content Strategy,” a former editor at A List Apart, and generally one of the smartest tech-editorial folks I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Getting to sit down with her and plot this thing out has been a real highlight of 2012.

    When Erin and I talked about who we’d want to hire as a developer for Source, we knew we wanted to hire someone from within the news apps community, and that’s exactly who we got in Ryan Pitts, a news apps developer for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., and also a board member on the PANDA project. Our key want in that hire was someone who would be a collaborator instead of simply a contractor, and in the weeks since he’s signed on, he has been exactly that.


    What we’re building

    When we started to plan out Source, Erin and I sat down with news apps developers from the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, ProPublica, and other news organizations, to really sketch out the idea and focus it around real needs, problem sets, and experiences.

    The result of those sessions is a site that couples in-depth articles that dig into the hows, whys and whos of journalistic development with an index of open news code repositories — “context, code, and community” is another way to put it: We want to showcase all three parts of this vibrant and growing space.

    Of course, these aren’t separate things — they’re all interrelated, and so the database models we’ve built reflect that. You’ll be able to filter articles and repositories by concept (“show me election dataviz,” for instance), by people (“show me everything by Jeff Larson“), or even by organization (“let’s see everything by the Guardian“), and of course you can combine those searches as well.


    We need you

    We’re looking to make Source the central, well, source for information about journalism code and the community growing around it. That’s not going to happen without help from the community. Your input at every level, from writing articles to submitting listings into the code index, is going to be crucial.

    Even though the site isn’t ready yet, we’re starting to collect some of this material so we can have a nice collection of articles and index entries when we launch. We’d love your help! Erin has created some simple forms you can fill out that can help us flesh out the following things:

    We can’t wait to show Source to you once it’s ready. In the meantime, you play as big a role in this as we do. Thanks!

    Tagged: code developers journalism knight-mit civic media conference opennews Source

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