As I wait for the Knight Foundation to give OpenBlock Rural the official “Go!” I’ve been talking with developers and working on nailing down an estimate of what it would take to get OpenBlock up and running. For that conversation, please tune in to this discussion thread on the eb code Google Group for developers.
Every now and again I’ll find myself in a conversation with copyeditors about the future of their craft. One point I often bring up is that a big part of the job in online newsrooms needs to be overall QA of the site. And one of the most challenging workflows to support that is the copyediting of computer code. The example I always use to illustrate the point is the AP style on state abbreviations. If the Web developers define the abbreviation for California as “CA” instead of “Calif.” … well that’s something that should stick in the craw of every copyeditor until the code gets changed.
And now I have an actual piece of code to illustrate the example. (This comes from the code that runs OpenBlock — the much awaited open-source version of Adrian Holovaty’s EveryBlock. This isn’t meant to pick on that community. They’re doing difficult and needed work. And this could happen anywhere… which makes it a good anecdote.)
What’s the workflow in your newsroom for making sure that this gets changed to “Reporting Officers’ Names” before launch? Should the designers give editors a mock-up of all the static text elements (including words-as-graphics) on the page? Should the developers give editors printouts of all the tables that contain datafields that might get on the live site? Or do you just publish and come up with some sort of sampling scenario?
How does it work in your newsroom? How should it?
Ryan Thornburg is the author of the new online journalism textbook and newsroom manual, Producing Online News, available from CQPress.com
One of the reasons I’m so struck that online journalists in North Carolina have such an emphasis on traditional skills and duties is that it starkly contrasts with the skills I hear editors at top national sites tell me that they are looking for in recent j-school grads. The Knight Foundation believes that programmers are in such high demand in newsrooms today that they gave Northwestern $638,000 to fund nine full-ride scholarships for programmers who want to get a master’s degree in journalism at Medill.
One of the scholarship recipients, Brian Boyer, writes about his career prospects over at the MediaShift blog.
Listed below are the job titles he thinks are available to him. He’s most interested in becoming a “applications developer” or a “hacker journalist.” Are any of these jobs available in North Carolina?