“How can we help?” When I first joined OpenNews (at the time it was called the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership — a mouthful to be sure), I asked that question a lot. If I was in a room with news developers, it was one of the first things out of my mouth. If I was sending e-mails, it was toplined. If you had a beer with me those first few months, I asked it. If we went on a walk, I asked it. If we passed in an airport, I asked it.
When the answers came — varied and honest and clear — they helped to transform the program, turning us from simply a fellowship program that placed technologists in newsrooms into a program that also helped support the nascent journalism code community through initiatives like Source (1 year old now) and our journalism Hack Day sponsorships (more than 40 in 20 countries since Spring 2012).
And now, I can’t believe I get to announce that we’re transforming even more. Thanks to a significant grant from the Knight Foundation, OpenNews will be expanding our work helping to strengthen the community creating code in journalism through 2016.
The core work we’re doing is continuing:
- We’re continuing our fellowship program (in fact, we’ll be announcing our five incredible new fellows at the Mozilla Festival next week) for all three years. Our fellows still have the same mandate: to experiment, to follow their passions, and to build amazing things.
- We’re continuing to run Source, our hub for the journalism code community, but with budget for more coverage of the innovative code coming out of journalism, and continued buildout of the Learning section we launched earlier this year.
- We’ll still be sponsoring and helping organize journalism hack days around the world — an initiative that has brought thousands of people around the world into contact with journo-coding. We’ve held events in every continent but two: Australia and Antarctica, we’re coming for you next.
But we’re also doing a bunch that’s new:
- In addition to expanding Source, we’ll be launching a Source Conference (right now, we’re calling it SRC CON) that will combine the passion-driven open sessions of an unconference with the collaborative making of a hack weekend.
- We’ll be pulling together “code convenings” of journalism developers and open-source contributors to collaborate on shared codebases and libraries so that we can stop continually reinventing the wheel on needed infrastructure, like election parsers, opsec, visualizations, and more.
- We’ll be prototyping in-person learning opportunities for smaller and less-tech savvy newsrooms. A lot of work will be forking off of current Knight-Mozilla Fellow Noah Veltman’s excellent Learning Lunches he’s been doing at the BBC. This work will put us in some new places, and we’re looking forward to going.
This list is just the start. With three years of runway, we’ll be taking off in all sorts of new directions as well.
Everything we’re doing — new and old, on this list and still-to-come — comes from talking, collaborating, and building with the incredible community of newsroom coders, civic hackers, open-source contributors we’ve met through the work we’re doing at OpenNews. It’s a vibrant, growing community that is not only transforming journalism, but also the web itself.
We’re incredibly lucky to call this community home and to be able to help it thrive. The next three years are going to be amazing.
Let’s do this.
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.