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.

Data, data everywhere: Hacks/Hackers Philly meetup 2

Thanks to everyone who attended our second meetup on data tools and brainstorming for Random Hacks of Kindness.

We began with some mingling and free pizza. It was really encouraging to hear all the enthusiasm for this group as everyone introduced themselves. We also welcomed Dave Merrell of as a co-organizer of the group with me (Erika) and Dana Bauer of Azavea.

For the lightning talks we went from a tool to help you access data (ScraperWiki) to a tool to help make sense of messy data (Google Refine) to a tool to display data (Google Fusion Tables).