Smart people working on a tough problem: NICAR news apps archive designathon

Sometimes I look around the room at a conference and am just awed by the intelligence and energy and generosity of everyone in the room. The annual NICAR conference, to me, is one of the embodiments of what is possible when you get smart people together to actually learn, teach, and talk with one another. Though NICAR is not focused on the news nerds community exclusively, it is one of the few events that brings a huge chunk of that group together in person. We learn and mentor one another, but don't necessarily get a lot of time to build, to do hands-on work with those colleagues at other newsrooms.

So this year, OpenNews is teaming up with the Pop Up Archive and Newseum to host a designathon the Sunday of NICAR. We'll take a brief roadtrip from Baltimore to DC to work together at the Newseum on the topic of archiving news apps. The idea was sparked by Jacob Harris and a discussion he ran at Newsfoo. On Source, Jacob laid out the archiving conundrum facing data journalists:

Celebrating investment in OpenNews and the journalism code community

Hack day participants

Today the Knight Foundation announced its renewed commitment to Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, with a $4 million grant. That's a whole lotta money. Big news. It's an investment not in a product, but in a community.

Earlier this year, the CEO of the Knight Foundation publicly asked for feedback about the Knight News Challenge and how to help their grantmaking have more impact. If I may be so bold: this is it. OpenNews has plans to build some amazing stuff, but more than that, this project is about acting as the connective tissue in the journalism code community. It exists to meet people where they are already at and support them in deepening their engagement, their skills, and their leadership in this community. It's rare that an organization has the chance to focus on building connections between people, institutions, and projects. But that's how we get to spend the next three years.

The amazing, overwhelming Knight-Mozilla Fellowship applicants

2014 applicants

It was great fun watching the applications to the Knight-Mozilla Fellowship roll in. People applied from all over the world. We got 102 more applications than last year. More women applied. More awe-inspiringly qualified people applied. It's been a humbling and exciting experience. So, how'd we get to this point of a wealth of amazing applicants, and where do we go next in the process?

Putting the public interest in public interest journalism

Journalists have a lot of high-minded ideals about journalism. We don't always live up to these ideals, but in Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation decided to put some money behind the concept that journalism should be a public service. It created the Center for Public Interest Journalism and the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network (now AxisPhilly). It put millions of dollars directly into public interest journalism, with a three-year runway to figure out what shape such an endeavor could take.

And yet it failed. Why? (And why am I attempting to answer this?*)

At the risk of burning bridges, I want to attempt an answer that helps push the public conversation forward, in the direction of revived public interest reporting in Philadelphia.