Geeks for journalism or journalism for geeks?

Lex Alexander, Greensboro News-Record citizen-journalism guru, in a post about a community meetup to talk about the paper’s online CJ section:

“We frequently get asked why we don’t do X, or whether we have ever thought about doing Y. Regarding Y, the answer is “probably.” But the N&R’s news department has an appetite for doing stuff online that exceeds available resources. Our department relies on people in another division, News & Record Interactive, who must divide their time between revenue-generating sites for outside clients and news content for our Web sites (and guess which is the higher priority). Only a few of those folks even work with the News Department, and only one (last I checked) worked directly on the kinds of things that make interacting with the site fun and worthwhile. These folks are very talented and work some very long hours, but there’s only so much they can do. One way or another, we’re going to have to get more programmers for News, and Editor John Robinson knows that.”

This is the sort of thing that’s gone on at Knight Ridder, too, where the online edition is constrained a bit by the templating done at KR Digital. I’m still wondering if that process is going to change on July 1 when McClatchy takes over.

“One way or another, we’re going to have to get more programmers for News…” Alexander wrote.

Which brings me to a twist on the computer-assisted reporting discussion: Should j-schools be teaching journalists how to program, or should they be inviting programming students to take journalism classes? At SJSU, can Computer Science majors get some sort of useful gen-ed credit for a 61-level introductory journalism class? That would be cool…

Either way, if you’re a journalist who knows how to manhandle some code, or a coder who knows how to copy edit, there should be a boatload of jobs for you any second now.

3 thoughts on “Geeks for journalism or journalism for geeks?”

  1. Thanks for the link.

    One thing I’m curious about is: How does someone in my position — that is, a midcareer journalist with little technical background — go about teaching himself programming? Because I can’t presume that we’re going to hire programmers anytime soon and I can’t presume that there’ll ever be money in the training budget to send me somewhere that could really teach me professionally.




  2. Lex – This is, of course, the problem. I’m not expecting many mid-career reporters (or j-school professors for that matter) to learn how to code anytime soon.

    So how do we bring more of what Adrian’s doing into newspaper sites?

    I’m hoping it’s by hiring young journalists who are learning this stuff on their own or in school.

    (Note to recruiters: I’m learning this stuff on my own.)

    (Note to self: Learn this stuff…)


  3. Well, being a mid-career reporter, I’m going to HAVE to learn how to code.

    Now I just need to figure out how to teach myself.


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