HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The Internet Archive hopes to boost its collections through funding from the Knight News Challenge
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 24, 2012, 11 a.m.
Reporting & Production

Context, code, and community: Source is one-stop shopping for newsroom developers

The website finally centralizes a loose but vibrant community of news coders.

A lot of newsroom developers are doing good work, and part of that good work is talking about their work. See ProPublica, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune for a few examples.

Source logoThere is a loose community of code-savvy journalists sharing code, working through problems over Twitter, and meeting up at at meetups. “What there isn’t, right now, is a place for people to look at all of those code projects next to each other,” said Erin Kissane, who is part of the team running the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project.

“There’s not really a central place for…journo-coders to go into really geeky details about the projects they’re working on, outside of the handful of journo-code blogs,” she told me.

Erin KissaneThe remedy is Source, a new site meant to bring these wandering journonerds together under one roof. Kissane, the editor, has unveiled a development version of Source, with plans for a full launch in a month or so. She hopes people will begin contributing code samples, tutorials, and instructive articles about their own projects. Ryan Pitts, a developer at The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review built the site.

“Context, code, and community” is how Dan Sinker, the OpenNews director, describes the project. He and Kissane met with developers in newsrooms to understand what they yearn for most. The biggest request was for an index of code repositories, like a specialized GitHub for journalism. You’ll find a Ruby client for interacting with The New York Times’ Campaign Finance API; a JavaScript library from The Guardian that helps manage the datasets behind visualizations; and TimelineSetter, a ProPublica app that turns ugly spreadsheets into pretty timelines.

The site pulls live data from GitHub repositories, displaying who’s working on which projects and what’s changed. You’ll be able to search for all projects by a particular person, organization, or topic (say, campaign finance or crime tracking). The plan is to be able to add repositories from other networks, too.

Source is a full embrace of the “show your work” ethos — second-nature for open-source software makers, but novel for newsrooms. The whole idea is to get news organizations sharing their code and make it easy for others — even competitors — to steal that code and make it better.

“I think that there’s real work to be done in advocating for, shining a spotlight on, and helping to generate community around the code that’s being written in journalism,” Sinker wrote in first describing his idea last year. “Because the more community that can be built, the better the code is and the better off journalism is because of it.”

Kissane said being open source is not a requirement for inclusion in the Source database, however. Developers are also welcome to post portions of otherwise closed-source projects to the site.

POSTED     July 24, 2012, 11 a.m.
SEE MORE ON Reporting & Production
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The Internet Archive hopes to boost its collections through funding from the Knight News Challenge
The home of the Wayback Machine and other efforts to preserve the Internet is among 22 projects based around libraries receiving $3 million in funding through the Knight News Challenge.
Constantly tweaking: How The Guardian continues to develop its in-house analytics system
Since its launch in 2011, The Guardian has consistently made changes to its in-house analytics tool, Ophan.
Bloomberg Business’ new look has made a splash — but don’t just call it a redesign
Bloomberg digital editor Joshua Topolsky on uncomfortable news design, new ad units, and why they killed the comments.
What to read next
2902
tweets
Don’t try too hard to please Twitter — and other lessons from The New York Times’ social media desk
The team that runs the Times’ Twitter accounts looked back on what they learned — what worked, what didn’t — from running @NYTimes in 2014.
728From explainers to sounds that make you go “Whoa!”: The 4 types of audio that people share
How can public radio make audio that breaks big on social media? A NPR experiment identified what makes a piece of audio go viral.
722Q&A: Amy O’Leary on eight years of navigating digital culture change at The New York Times
“In 2007, as digital people, we were expected to be 100 percent deferent to all traditional processes. We weren’t to bother reporters or encourage them to operate differently at all, because what they were doing was the very core of our journalism.”
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Ushahidi
Vox Media
Amazon
Medium
The Washington Post
Seattle PostGlobe
Groupon
Media Consortium
PBS
FiveThirtyEight
Time
DNAinfo