HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation
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.
Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation
A new homepage feature called “Watching” offers readers a feed of headlines, tweets, and multimedia from around the web.
Better together: How two St. Louis nonprofit newsrooms are learning to thrive as one outlet
St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon joined forces last December. Now, after a summer covering the protests in Ferguson, the combined newsroom is hitting its stride.
From Nieman Reports: Digital is bringing un grand dérangement to French news institutions
Ousted editors, newsroom revolts, and government subsidies — welcome to French journalism’s battle for survival.
What to read next
727
tweets
When it comes to chasing clicks, journalists say one thing but feel pressure to do another
Newsroom ethnographer Angèle Christin studied digital publications in France and the U.S. in order to compare how performance metrics influence culture.
725Wearables could make the “glance” a new subatomic unit of news
“The audience wants to go faster. This can’t be solved with responsive design; it demands an original approach, certainly at the start.”
661Designer or journalist: Who shapes the news you read in your favorite apps?
A new study looks at how engineers and designers from companies like Storify, Zite, and Google News see their work as similar — and different — from traditional 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 ➚
The Globe and Mail
Newsweek
The Atlantic
Tribune Publishing
ABC News
Publish2
Bloomberg
CNN
Tumblr
TechCrunch
Hacks/Hackers
The Dish