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April 24 2012


May 30 2011


Six @KnightMozilla lightning pitches from Chicago-area #HacksHackers

After peeking inside the Chicago Tribune’s news apps team last week, I descended deep, deep into the Tribune’s basement. Once home to printing presses, the lower levels of the Tribune tower were about to host a conversation about the future of news, courtesy of Hacks/Hackers Chicago and the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership.

Fueled only by pizza and sugary sodas, and a mercilessly-short presentation, these brave hacks and hackers put pen to paper and brainstormed how to improve news experiences on the open Web.

A mere thirty minutes later, they were asked to present those ideas back to the group. Here they are:

I’m excited about what the MoJo team has been able to do via these ‘design jam’ events with the Hacks/Hackers community and our news partners. It’s more than just getting the word out about the innovation challenges: we’re helping to build community and conversations around the field of news innovation that will have impact for years to come.

A big thanks is due to Trib staffers Joe Germuska and Chris Groskopf, and Medill’s Rich Gordon for organizing this event. And to the following folks who made the event possible by showing up and really participating:

Thanks again, folks. If I missed your name, please let me know.

May 25 2011


A peek inside the @TribApps Team at the Chicago Tribune.

Open-Web innovation appears to be the name of the game in the Chicago Tribune’s News Applications department. I had a chance to sit down with Joe Germuska, Christopher Groskopf, and Brian Boyer from the @TribApps team yesterday in Chicago, and I had a few questions on my mind:

  • What is the scope of their work? What do they work on day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-over-month?
  • How does the news apps team interface with the editorial and other departments?
  • What is the experience of being an island inside a ‘traditional’ or ‘legacy’ news organization?

The scope of this team’s work is nothing short of awe-inspiring. They’re responsible for a wide range of projects: from classic ‘news apps’ like the 2010 Illinois School Report Cards to the unlikely job of deploying a massive number of Wordpress sites to power the TribLocal.com network.

Nonetheless, they still have the time and opportunity to work on forward-thinking initiatives like the Chicago Breaking News Live Web app, and to release tools like the The Newsapps Boundary Service for other newsrooms to build on.

Through all of these varying demands, open-web thinking seems to permeate everything they do. For example:

  • Chris shares his experiences building news apps with big data for other organizations to learn from;
  • Joe is collaborating with other newsrooms and news apps developers to build tools that will make it easier for reporters to explore and make sense of census data (Joe, do you have a link for me?)
  • The whole team is focused on releasing re-usable code and building a body of knowledge about how to handle the unique needs of a newsroom.

As for the advantages of working in a nimble team like this, Brian put it succinctly when he said “we can roll a new rig every day to improve how we do our development.” Translation: even in the real-world environment of a newsroom, with deadlines and deliverables looming, and despite the challenges of a their IT department, this team is able to rapidly experiment and test new ideas.

Interestingly — and even though the team was started by individuals with a journalism-first background — new team members have come to the job with more technology and computer science experience, than traditional journalism chops.

I was curious about this from the perspective of the Knight-Mozilla fellows that will be heading into newsrooms this fall, and how they might have similar backgrounds.

If the @TribApps team is any indication, I think our fellows will have a fighting chance at survival.

February 23 2011


Awards season begins: narrative highlights from ASNE and Polk awards; announcement of CRMA finalists

Looking for some quality narrative journalism you might not have noticed before? As awards season for newspapers and magazines gets underway, we wanted to share links to stories recognized for their writing and storytelling. Here are some of the more narrative categories and entries from the 2010 Polk Awards in Journalism, the list of finalists for the 2011 City and Regional Magazine Awards, and the winners of the American Society of News Editors awards for the best journalism of 2010.

Earlier this month, the City and Regional Magazine Association and the Missouri School of Journalism announced the 2011 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalists. There are a lot of narrative contenders in many of the categories, but here are the candidates for feature story and for writer of the year. Winners will be announced at the CRMA 35th Annual Conference to be held April 30-May 2 at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. (Click on the article titles to read the stories.)

Feature Story

  • 5280 Magazine – Lindsey Koehler “Gone
  • Atlanta Magazine – Thomas Lake “The Golden Boy
  • Chicago Magazine – Bryan Smith “The Long Fall
  • Philadelphia Magazine – Ralph Cipriano “The Hitman
  • Texas Monthly – Michael Hall “The Soul of a Man” (link is to excerpt only)

Writer of the Year (specific stories were not mentioned, but we have included a link to a story from each writer)

The American Society of News Editors last week announced the winners of its annual awards for outstanding writing and photography for 2010. Some of the stories are projects that we’ve covered before, but here are a few with a strong element of storytelling that you might not have seen yet.

The staff of The New York Times won the Online Storytelling award, for “A Year at War,” which recounts the life of a battalion with “intimacy and deep understanding.” Michael Kruse won the Distinguished Writing Award for Nondeadline Writing for a collection of stories, including his celebrated monkey piece. Barbara Davidson of the Los Angeles Times won the Community Service Photojournalism award for her exploration of the effects of gang violence on the innocent: “those wounded or killed because of a quarrel in which they had no part, victims lying in hospital beds or relatives and friends standing by their loved ones’ coffins or sitting all alone asking, ‘Why?’ ”

William Wan of The Washington Post won the Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity for “his stories that provide insights that add to readers’ understanding and awareness of diverse issues shaping society and culture. Wan writes about a proud U.S. Army soldier whose Islamic faith is the target of ongoing hostility within his own ranks. Another piece details unusual Saturday afternoon church services at a Giant supermarket, where worshipping occurs in the community room and sometimes in the aisles. He also reports on Major League Baseball’s quixotic training program in China.”

And just this week, Long Island University announced the 2010 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone won the award for Magazine Reporting for “The Runaway General,” the story of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and America’s conflicted mission in Afghanistan. The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” project, spearheaded by Dana Priest and William Arkin, took the prize for National Reporting. The “Law and Disorder” collaboration between PBS’ “Frontline,” ProPublica and The Times-Picayune covered suspicious shootings by police in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and won the award for Television Reporting.

For more, see the complete list of ASNE winners, the Polk Awards press release, and all the 2011 CRMA finalists.

October 15 2010


NetSquared Camp Chicago - Event Recap

Taking place on September 12, the NetSquared Camp in Chicago brought together technology professionals seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities with organizations struggling to manage their technology needs. The Camp, one in a series of Camps Pilot events, aimed to help the Chicago nonprofit community build their technological capability and provide networking and volunteer opportunities for tech professionals. Learn more about the event including resources, stories, and media from the day:

read more

September 06 2010


One Week To Net2 Camp In Chicago!

Net2 Camps Logo

The NetSquared Camp in Chicago, IL, USA is this Sunday! This event is aimed at nonprofit professionals and volunteers who are interested in learning more about web technology, and at technology professionals who are interested in sharing their skills with nonprofit organizations. Tickets are still available but space is limited, so register today! And, whether you can make it to the event or not, we hope you'll participate virtually to share all your great insights around the globe.

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June 29 2010


Nonprofits and Tech Pros: A Match Made in Chicago This Fall

Greetings! My name is Heidi Massey and I am the organizer of the Chicago, Illinois Net Squared Camp, Net Squared Chicago Counts (Conference Uniting Nonprofits & Technology.) The Chicago event will be taking place on Sunday, September 12th at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Fortunately, IIT is very accessible to public transportation and will have ample parking spaces for cars as well.

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