New journ-tech community in Miami + Follow-up to the Code with Me Miami workshop

The February, we sponsored Code With Me's second workshop in Miami. We asked our friend, Miami-based journalist and Code with Me Miami mentor, Rebekah Monson, to give us a follow-up explaining how journalists in the area have since started their own Hacks/Hackers chapter and have been hosting weekly open hack nights with the Code For Miami Brigade at one of the city's co-working spaces called The LAB Miami.


Code With Me Miami aimed to teach 18 local journalists basic HTML, CSS and jQuery so they could make better web stories. Several participants have gone on to do just that in their newsrooms, but that small workshop has paid far bigger dividends than any of us could have anticipated six months ago.

One of the most unique aspects of Code With Me is its community spirit. The workshop was jam-packed with information, but the learning model and activities were made to be social, approachable and, well, fun. By the end of the weekend, participants and mentors had made connections that have since flourished.

HHMIA MySQL Bootcamp with Steph Rosenblatt

While we were still high on our Code With Me buzz, Dan Grech and I started organizing a Hacks/Hackers chapter to help improve online journalism in Miami and to continue the community skill-sharing we experienced in the workshop.

HHMIA/Code For Miami Getting started with GitHub meetup with Jake Smith

In March, we formed Hacks/Hackers Miami (HHMIA), which holds monthly meetups covering a range of topics including MySQL basics, multimedia storytelling tools, how to build a user-generated mapping site, and using Git and GitHub. HHMIA has grown to more than 140 members. The monthly meetups draw between 20 and 40 participants. And, members regularly drop in at a weekly open hack night at The LAB Miami, a co-working space at the heart of Miami’s start-up scene.

While organizing HHMIA, we noticed that other chapters often collaborated with civic hackers, who share similar interests with journalists. But, Miami didn’t have an organized civic hacking community. So we reached out to Ernie Hsiung, a front-end developer and founder of MiamiWiki, and we launched Code for Miami. Our rag-tag group of developers, designers and Miamians of all stripes is now an official Code for America brigade with four completed projects, a few more in development, a weekly hack night and several bigger events and goals on the horizon.

Ernie Hsiung and Rebekah Monson at Hack for Change Miami

HHMIA and Code for Miami also teamed up with civic leaders, officials and representatives from University of Miami and Florida International University to organize a broader National Day of Civic Hacking hackathon in June. More than 200 people ages 8 to 80 participated in Hack for Change Miami, producing 13 prototypes and doubling the number of entries in MiamiWiki. For his hackathon project that localized a state legislation tracker app, HHMIA and Code for Miami member Rob Davis was honored at the White House Champions of Change event last month. And, a group of media outlets with statewide reach is tentatively signed on to host his Florida Bill Tracker app for the next legislative session.

What’s happening in Miami isn’t unique — active, diverse, collaborative tech communities are growing all over the country and the world — but it’s special to us. In 2011, Miami ranked as the least civically engaged city in the country. Obviously, civic disconnect is bad for journalism, it’s bad for government, and it’s bad for Miamians. Now, journalists are working alongside a host of organizations and individuals to repair that rift through improving transparency in government, sharing information more efficiently, and telling our community’s stories in new ways.

We still have a long way to go to make Miami’s networks as vital and extensive as those in New York, D.C. or Chicago, but we’ve made a solid, fast start and momentum is growing. The Code With Me workshop set out to empower a small group of journalists with coding skills to build better stories, but it also empowered some of us to start building a better community.

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