“Recalculating the newsroom: the Rise of the journo-coder?”

So, this is exciting.

As part of my journey to becoming more tech-minded, I wrote a chapter for a new book called “Data Journalism:Mapping the future.” (It’s due out in a couple of weeks time and I’ll post details then so you can rush out and buy a copy.) It’s edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble with Paul Bradshaw and Teodora Beleaga (Abramis)

There’s a book launch on January 22nd at the Adam Street Private Members Club, just off The Strand. Do come!

 Data journalism – mapping the future?

Chair: Raymond Snoddy. (Former Media Editor The Times)

Panel: David Ottewell – Head of Digital Trinity Mirror

Martin Stabe – Head of Interactive News The Financial Times

Jacqui Taylor – CEO Flyingbinary Limited

A new way for journalism or just old clothes disguised as new? Should journalists be programmers? Should they all have computing skills? Does Data Journalism help comprehension?

To mark the publication of Data Journalism; Mapping the Future? Edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble with Paul Bradshaw and Teodora Beleaga (Abramis)

So, what’s the chapter about?

I decided it was time to find out just how much coding skill journalists need in newsrooms today. Is the journo-coder a myth? Do we all need to have a github account as well as a blog? Should students ditch shorthand and learn to code instead?

I interviewed journalists and developers working in the interactive news departments at the BBC and Financial Times. They were extremely helpful and very generous with their time. I was interested in what skills they had,  how they learnt their skills and how they worked together.

Only one person was comfortable describing themselves as a “journo-coder” or any of the other ugly, hybrid phrases that are out there. The rest strongly identified as either journalist or developer. BUT, when pressed, the journalists admitted they had a pretty exceptional skill set that you wouldn’t expect a conventional newsroom journo to have. A top-notch developer wouldn’t call them coding skills and wouldn’t even mention them on their CV because they’re pretty trivial.  But for a journalist, WOW! Writing complex Excel functions or managing a database using SQL or writing a  simple scraper in Python – these are cutting-edge skills that move your journalism into an exciting new era of interactive storytelling. They are also highly marketable skills.

And they didn’t learn them in journalism class.

I’ll post more after publication and I’ll probably re-version it as a slideshare as well for anyone who’s interested.

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