Oh, the places you'll go, Hacker Journalists!

My, how far we've come.

We, meaning the OpenNews community.

A little over a year ago, I was sitting in Berlin with 20 amazing, talented individuals — five of whom were to be the first OpenNews fellows — and five of the best news organizations in the world. Gunner, Michelle Thorne, Mark Surman, Ryan Merkley, Dan Sinker (and his beard) were all in attendance.

We called our event #hacktoberfest, and it was the penultimate stage in the Knight-Mozilla news fellowship selection process in 2011.

Oh, yeah, "OpenNews" wasn't a thing last October. It was "MoJo" (Mozilla + journalism) and 2011 was the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership's inaugural year.

I have a difficult time describing #hacktoberfest so suffice it to say that it was one of the most inspiring, unreal and cool things I have done. The people that I met were some of the best and brightest, the conversations I had ranged from silly to philosophical, abstract to technical. At the end of it all, we swore we'd stay in touch and be best friends forever. We had high hopes for "where from here" initiatives, like follow-up collaboration, monthly sessions of shared learning over G+, developer match-making … We (the 20) didn't live up to our ambitions, technically.

We had high-level ideas of how to push forward with the code-in-journalism thing. But we really didn't know what to do exactly. It's not like there was a blueprint for the best way to continue remote collaboration or build this community or keep the conversation going.

So some of that fell off. But here we are, a year later, with many of us from #hacktoberfest reunited at #MozFest 2012. We have @opennews and we have @source. We have the same high-level energy in an equally amazing pool of incredible talent, passionate about source code for journalism and helping the industry find its place on the open web. We have eight new insanely cool OpenNews fellows going to eight of the best news organizations that push journalism forward on a daily basis.

This is my first MozFest. So I can't speak about how the event itself or how the journalism part of it has improved or grown from last year. But having been a part of Knight-Mozilla (now OpenNews) from its beginning stages, it's absolutely amazing how much the program and community has grown in just a year.

We discussed election coverage with a crowd of 70+ people representing so many renowned international news outlets. We broke out into sessions and tried to solve the issues of mobile design, "slow politics," redundancy in maps and results lists, citizen voices and political context. We're taking that step towards building the next web solutions to problems in news.

And we're only getting started.

About the author

Katie Zhu

Undergraduate Fellow

Latest Posts

  • Building a Community for VR and AR Storytelling

    In 2016 we founded the Device Lab to provide a hub for the exploration of AR/VR storytelling on campus. In addition to providing access to these technologies for Medill and the wider Northwestern community, we’ve also pursued a wide variety of research and experimental content development projects. We’ve built WebVR timelines of feminist history and looked into the inner workings of ambisonic audio. We’ve built virtual coral reefs and prototyped an AR experience setting interviews...

    Continue Reading

  • A Brief Introduction to NewsgamesCan video games be used to tell the news?

    When the Financial Times released The Uber Game in 2017, the game immediately gained widespread popularity with more than 360,000 visits, rising up the ranks as the paper’s most popular interactive piece of the year. David Blood, the game’s lead developer, said that the average time spent on the page was about 20 minutes, which was substantially longer than what most Financial Times interactives tend to receive, according to Blood. The Uber Game was so successful that the Financial...

    Continue Reading

  • With the 25th CAR Conference upon us, let’s recall the first oneWhen the Web was young, data journalism pioneers gathered in Raleigh

    For a few days in October 1993, if you were interested in journalism and technology, Raleigh, North Carolina was the place you had to be. The first Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference offered by Investigative Reporters & Editors brought more than 400 journalists to Raleigh for 3½ days of panels, demos and hands-on lessons in how to use computers to find stories in data. That seminal event will be commemorated this week at the 25th CAR Conference, which...

    Continue Reading

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • Audience Engagement and Onboarding with Hearken Auditing the News Resurrecting History for VR Civic Engagement with City Bureau Automated Fact Checking Conversational Interface for News Creative Co-Author Crowdsourcing for Journalism Environmental Reporting with Sensors Augmented Reality Visualizations Exploring Data Visualization in VR Fact Flow Storytelling with GIFs Historical Census Data Information Spaces in AR/VR Contrasting Forms Of Interactive 3D Storytelling Interactive Audio Juxtapose Legislator Tracker Storytelling with Augmented Reality Music Magazine Navigating Virtual Reality Open Data Reporter Oscillations Personalize My Story Photo Bingo Photojournalism in 3D for VR and Beyond Podcast Discoverability Privacy Mirror Projection Mapping ProPublica Illinois Rethinking Election Coverage SensorGrid API and Dashboard Sidebar Smarter News Exploring Software Defined Radio Story for You Storyline: Charts that tell stories. Storytelling Layers on 360 Video Talking to Data Visual Recipes Watch Me Work Writing and Designing for Chatbots
  • Prototyping Spatial Audio for Movement Art

    One of Oscillations’ technical goals for this quarter’s Knight Lab Studio class was an exploration of spatial audio. Spatial audio is sound that exists in three dimensions. It is a perfect complement to 360 video, because sound sources can be localized to certain parts of the video. Oscillations is especially interested in using spatial audio to enhance the neuroscientific principles of audiovisual synchrony that they aim to emphasize in their productions. Existing work in spatial......

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More