Keeping up with OpenNews and 5 years of Source
by Dan Sinker and Erika Owens
(This is the third of a series of monthly newsletters to stakeholders providing an overview of what OpenNews has been working on and showcasing folks in the community.)
In a week of sharing gratitude, we have a chance to look back at the work of the news nerd community that we’ve had the privilege to share over the last five years. We asked our colleagues Erin Kissane and Lindsay Muscato to write about our site Source and its role in this community:
What’s going on with OpenNews: 5 years of community work
Last month, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our community site, Source. It’s a big milestone for us. Source was one of the first major initiatives OpenNews launched: a home for the news nerd community’s discoveries about making stories come alive on the web. We built Source for the designers, developers, and data journalists who often created the tools and processes they needed from scratch as each new challenge arose. By collecting code repos and publishing the nerd equivalent of DVD commentary tracks for interactives, we hoped to make it easier to share documentation and knowledge across teams and organizations.
Five years later, we’ve published more than 500 articles involving more than 600 journalists, and have featured work from more than 200 news organizations.
Each article we’ve published helps make it easier and faster for newsroom developers and designers to produce sophisticated interactives and features by building on the work of other teams. This kind of distributed collaboration lets news organizations share frameworks and tools while still competing on individual stories—and opens pathways for organizations to work together to solve problems and fill gaps for the community as a whole. At the same time, individuals and teams benefit from the chance to publicly document their work and demonstrate their expertise, whether they’re part of a major international collaboration or a small, understaffed newsroom.
A spin through Source’s archives reflects the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of this community, and how it has changed and developed. We’re still publishing lots of walkthroughs on how data and code projects came together, and we post a biweekly collection of striking work in the field. We’ve also expanded our focus to match the changing times, with pieces on building better and more diverse teams, coping with burnout, and keeping journalists safe from privacy and security risks. And we’ve put even more emphasis on our longstanding efforts to publish and celebrate the work of journalists of color, women, and other groups underrepresented in news and technology.
Now we’re looking ahead. We’ll be at SRCCON:WORK in just a few weeks, we’ll be taking in the results of the latest news nerd survey, and we’ll be here to celebrate and share work from the ever-growing community of designers, developers, data nerds, reporters—and other folks with often-confusing job titles—as they continue to realize the future of journalism.
Perspectives from the Community
Rachel Schallom is a newsroom project manager at the Wall Street Journal who has written for Source about aspects of hiring as this field grows. Rachel tells of her experience joining the news nerd community:
I started my career as a print designer and quickly knew that I wanted to move into interactive design and digital strategy. I pitched the idea for an interactive team at the newspaper I was working out, and through building that team from scratch, I learned that running successful digital things were just as much about how we worked as it was about what we created.
Luckily for me, the first SRCCON conference was scheduled around this time, and I was drawn to the program because it combined content with process, and I knew I could use ideas and feedback on both. I was so impressed with that conference that I kept coming back and was inspired to get move involved with OpenNews through reading Source, posting open positions on their website, and participating in the conference calls.
This summer, I wrote a piece about my experience with terrible hiring operations throughout the journalism industry, and Source was the first place I contacted about publishing it. I knew Erin and Lindsay would be thoughtful editors and would help me turn something that was really emotional for me into something that made our industry better. They succeeded and the piece was a huge hit.
In the next few weeks, we have our final big event of the year and more data about this community to share:
- SRCCON:WORK is coming up December 7-8. You can head over to Source for a series of Q&As, which start today and will help introduce the people and the themes we’ll be tackling at SRCCON:WORK. We’re busy organizing all the final details, and if you’d like to join us, we’re still looking for sponsors to help make this event accessible. (Thanks so much to the sponsors that have already joined us!)
- Next month, just before our conference we will release the results of this year’s news nerd survey. We’re working with our community advisory group and Google News Lab now to analyze the data and develop some visualizations to make it easy to explore different facets of the findings of the survey. We can’t wait to share with you the survey and our experiences from SRCCON:WORK.
- We’re hard at work for plans for 2018 and look forward to sharing more details with you soon. If you see a potential area where we might be able to collaborate, please reach out and let us know.
As 2018 begins to wind down, we are so grateful for the folks we’ve had the honor of working with and the stories we’ve been trusted to share through Source, SRCCON, and our other activities.
We’ll have a lot more to reflect on next month, but for now we’re grateful to be part of a community that does so much to support one another, especially the folks within it who have had an exceptionally challenging time this year. We’re all in this together, but some of us bear more of a burden than others, and we’re here to offer support where it is most needed.