Journalism as joy

City MuseumAn exclamation of glee appeared on the #nicar12 Twitter stream last night. Thanks to Derek Willis (no, really, thank you!) dozens of journalists from the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting 2012 conference descended on the City Museum in St. Louis.

Today, I tried to figure out how to explain what made last night so friggin incredible. First, the museum is amazing. It's pure fun. I realized that the museum also echoes many of the things that can happen in amazing newsrooms.

Why nonprofit news? Community.

What is the deal with the nonprofit news model? I think about this a lot and have plenty of different answers, but in considering it recently, my first reaction was emotional: It's about being a part of a community.

Allison and ErikaGrowing up, the publication I remember most clearly around our house was ​People​ magazine. The most talked about paper was probably the Chilton school newspaper (I kid, I kid). We read the local paper (I delivered it for four years) and watched the news, but life was not organized around the news cycle.

Life was organized around the election cycle.

Journalism, capitalism, and the purpose of our work

Do we make good journalism to support capitalism or to support our communities? Do we write to support the bottom lines of an increasingly consolidated group of corporate media conglomerates, or do we write to engage and inform our communities? 

This month's Carnival of Journalism prompt, "Can a good journalist be a good capitalist?" reminded me of conversations that followed a recent conference in Philly. The Center for Public Interest Journalism brought together journalists and citizen media makers for a conversation on "Engaging Communities." During a session on citizen-produced media, panelists described how to engage citizens in the production of media. They also discussed an important underlying question: Why do citizens make media?

Skill building to help journos become hacker-journalists

ProPublica, already a leader in investigative nonprofit news, announced the News Applications Fellowship today. This is huge. It is specifically targeted at journalists with an interest in, and facility for, becoming app developers. ProPublica will mentor the fellow and teach him/her how to build apps as a way of testing a hypothesis: "Can a smart, technical journalist with excellent and proven skills in other nerdy newsroom disciplines like graphics and CAR become a news app developer?" I can't think of another opportunity like this, which is targeted at the journalist side of the hacker-journalist hybrid.

Something that comes up a lot at techie meetups is that it can be difficult for beginners to get a real start in web development.