Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Announces ‘Code Sprint Grants’

    by Dan Sinker
    September 6, 2012

    2012 has been a pretty incredible year for the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project. We received 165 applications for our 2013 Fellowships (we were expecting around 80) and are now actively interviewing semifinalists. By the end of the year, we will have sponsored at least 20 hack days around the world. Our website Source, a destination for information about the code being written in journalism, is almost out of development (and being updated regularly while still in dev). By every measure, it has been a hell of a year.


    And now we’re adding something new to the OpenNews project: Code Sprint Grants.


    What’s that?

    Well, right now, the OpenNews projects helps create code that gets made in very short bursts at hack days and in very long strides by our Knight-Mozilla Fellows. These are both incredibly useful endeavors, but there’s a lot of ground between the two that is ripe for great code to be written. Code Sprint Grants are designed to fit there.

    Bridging the gulf between hack days and fellows

    I’ve been thinking about the gulf between hack days and fellowships for a while now. Back in November I wrote:


    There are a myriad of projects that need more attention than a hack day might provide, but that a year is overkill … This kind of mid-range project — something that requires a dedicated time commitment of only a few weeks or months — how do we support that? Because I think that may be the lynchpin for some really vital making.

    Code Sprints are designed to fit in that mid-range. We see Code Sprint Grants as funding small-scale tools and utilities that are focused on solving real needs of news organizations. By collaborating with news orgs to define problems and help move toward solutions, Code Sprint Grants are a way to get code written that helps solve specific, repeatable — and real — journalistic problems.

    Encouraging collaboration

    Collaboration with more news organizations is another goal. The news partners that are vital to the Knight-Mozilla Fellowships are big, well-established news companies with global reach and impact. Code Sprint Grants allow us to forge relationships with many more news organizations of different sizes, approaches, and reach. By broadening the organizations we collaborate with, we hope to produce a diverse range of tools.

    Code Sprint Grants are for $10,000 and are designed to get going quickly (our application for interested news organizations is just six questions long) and, like all of our programs, are optimized for flexibility (we want to help in ways that will be most useful to you and the code). When the code is ready for release, it will be well-documented, open-sourced, and available to anyone to fork, modify, and implement.

    We’re excited to announce that we’re accepting applications for news organizations interested in collaborating on Code Sprints today. There is plenty more detail, and a link to the application, available on the Code Sprint Grants page on the OpenNews site. Hope to hear from many of you soon.

    P.S. I’m writing this from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the home of our 2013 news partner La Nacion, and was beyond thrilled to be able to first announce our Code Sprint Grants during the keynote at the amazing Hacks Hackers BA Media Party, which has brought 400-plus developers and journalists from across South America (and around the world) to share and build together. The whole event has been an inspiration, and I’m thrilled to have been involved in it.

    Dan Sinker heads up the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership for Mozilla. From 2008 to 2011 he taught in the journalism department at Columbia College Chicago where he focused on entrepreneurial journalism and the mobile web. He is the author of the popular @MayorEmanuel twitter account and is the creator of the election tracker the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard, the mobile storytelling project CellStories, and was the founding editor of the influential underground culture magazine Punk Planet until its closure in 2007. He is the editor of We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, the collected interviews and was a 2007-08 Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

    A version of this post originally appeared here.

    Tagged: code sprint grants collaboration fellowships knight-mozilla news organizations opennews

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