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The New New Journalism

I spent last week at the Online News Association Conference, courtesy of our sponsors, the Knight Foundation. I came away with a greater sense of urgency about this project and what we need to accomplish.

After years of talk, newsrooms are finally changing dramatically. The best example of this came during a talk by Adrian Holovaty, the brains behind chicagocrime.org. Holovaty developed this database service that maps every crime in Chicago. He then left for the Washington Post where he helped build projects like “Faces of the Fallen.” He makes a strong argument that every newsroom needs to have a handful of developers and programmers working side-by-side with beat reporters.

Holovaty left the Post this year to run his own Knight-funded project, Every Block.

The use of data and the need for journalists with programming skills has exploded. Gannett has had lots of success creating Data Centers at various newspapers, such as this one at the Cincinnati Enquirer. Readers love them, but they also enhance the journalistic role these newspapers provide.

But where do you find these people? Fortunately, a couple places are tackling that problem. Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism has started a scholarship program to send computer scientists to journalism school. And Arizona State University has created the Knight-Kauffman Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurism, basically an incubator for j-school students to develop new ideas and companies.

As we go foward, it’s critical for us to consider not just the tools and the spaces, but who are the right people and what are the skills that will be needed in this new newsroom.

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