Back at the Hacks/Hackers Media Party in Buenos Aires, I announced the creation of Code Sprints — funding opportunities to build open-sourced tools for journalism. We used Code Sprints to fund a collaboration between WNYC in New York and KPCC in Southern California to build a parser for election night XML data that ended up used on well over 100 sites — it was a great collaboration to kick off the Code Sprint concept.
Originally, Code Sprints were designed to work like the XML parser project: driven in concept and execution by newsrooms. While that proved great for working with WNYC, we heard from a lot of independent developers working on great tools that fit the intent of Code Sprints, but not the wording of the contract. And we heard from a lot of newsrooms that wanted to use code, but not drive development, so we rethought how Code Sprints work. Today we’re excited to announce refactored Code Sprints for 2013.
Now, instead of a single way to execute a Code Sprint, there are three ways to help make Code Sprints happen:
- As an independent developer (or team) with a great idea that you think may be able to work well in the newsroom.
- As a newsroom with a great idea that wants help making it a reality.
- As a newsroom looking to betatest code that comes out of Code Sprints.
Each of these options means we can work with amazing code, news organizations, and developers and collaborate together to create lots of great open-source tools for journalism.
Code Sprint grant winner: Sheetsee.js
I always think real-world examples are better than theoreticals, so I’m also excited to announce the first grant of our revamped Code Sprints will go to Jessica Lord to develop her great Sheetsee.js library for the newsroom. Sheetsee has been on the OpenNews radar for a while — we profiled the project in Source a number of months back, and we’re thrilled to help fund its continued development.
Sheetsee was originally designed for use in the Macon, Ga., government as part of Lord’s Code for America fellowship, but the intent of the project — simple data visualizations using a spreadsheet for the backend — has always had implications far beyond the OpenGov space. We’re excited today to pair Lord with Chicago Public Media (WBEZ) to collaborate on turning Sheetsee into a kick-ass and dead-simple data journalism tool.
For WBEZ’s Matt Green, Sheetsee fit the bill for a lightweight tool that could help get the reporters “around the often steep learning curve with data publishing tools.” Helping to guide Lord’s development to meet those needs ensures that Sheetsee becomes a tool that works at WBEZ and at other news organizations as well.
We’re excited to fund Sheetsee, to work with a developer as talented as Lord, to collaborate with a news organization like WBEZ, and to relaunch Code Sprints for 2013. Onward!
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 on Dan Sinker’s Tumblr here.