Grad school update: I think I’m done

For those of you keeping score, I started blogging, more or less, when I started graduate school at San Jose State University back in early 2005.

As of Monday, April 6, 2009, I’m finished with my M.S. in Mass Communications at SJSU’s School of Journalism & Mass Communications, after turning in my project report and presenting my findings to the department and my peers in the program.

ReportingOn, my Knight News Challenge project, did double duty as my Master’s project, and the scope I presented in my report covers the first iteration of ReportingOn, through Feb. 1, 2009 or so, when the development of the next version began.

When I have some time (ha!), I’ll put a screencast equivalent of Monday night’s presentation up here, although it will be harder to get across all the good and important questions that the faculty and students asked.

Congratulations to all my friends and peers at SJSU who presented their research on Monday, and of course, to all my friends from MCOM 210, 250, 270, 290, and 295 — you know who you are.

Meanwhile, development of the next phase of ReportingOn continues.  I’ll have more news about it soon.

Why train programmers as journalists?

Over at IdeaLab, Rich Gordon shares his exit interview with Brian Boyer and Ryan Mark, the first two programmers to earn a Master’s degree through Medill’s Knight News Challenge-funded scholarship.

Because it’s fucking important.

Thanks to the News Challenge, I’ve had the chance to meet Brian and Ryan and hang out with them a bit. Frankly, they’re excellent at what they do, and they have the ideals to match. So, who will have the vision to hire these guys? A major metro in Chicago? (And should they take a job at a major metro?) Non-profits digging through public data like the Sunlight Foundation? (Gordon reports that Boyer has a temporary gig at ProPublica for starters.)

Gordon asked the two graduates the important question that other programmers/coders/developers should consider:

“Why should someone with solid programming skills consider a master’s degree in journalism?

Mark: Because journalism needs them. There are so many tech-capable people in journalism, but few who have logged the time to understand computer science and software development. A person who does not want to just write code for whoever pays them, and actually come up with and execute interesting software projects, the journalism experience will help you. This program got me out of my element and gave me first hand experience that will help me relate to others in the field when i’m not elbow deep in code.

Boyer: Because it’s fucking important. Cable television and the Web disrupted the business models of the big, important journalism organizations: newspapers. Now, the importance of a daily paper is debatable, but that democracy requires journalism to function is not. And so, for the sake of democracy itself, it is imperative that more nerds join the fight to save the news. We need to invent new business models, reinvent the newspaper, and create new forms of media. Plus, an all-expense-paid trip to graduate school in sunny Chicago, Illinois, is also a very nice way to weather a recession. And the smart, passionate classmates make for some pretty good parties and great conversation.”

I’m psyched to follow where these two land, and what the next group of programmer/journalist grad students builds.

Think you’ve got the chops to help save journalism?  Apply.

[I posted pieces of this as a shared Google Reader item last night when I saw Rich’s post. You can see all my shared stuff and notes about it over on FriendFeed if that’s what you’re into.]

Things to do…

Now that I’m back from vacation, here’s what’s on my to-do list for, uh, the foreseeable future:

  • Finish developing the pre-alpha version of ReportingOn and launch it.  Like, really, really soon.
  • Go to SND/APME next week, speak on Sunday, go to some awesome sessions and pimp ReportingOn to every editor I meet.
  • Write the first draft of my graduate school project report regarding ReportingOn.
  • Get someone to redesign Wired Journalists, or run a contest inviting users to edit their own theme and submit it.  The winner gets, um, a prize of some sort, and all sorts of link love.
  • Think about developing a Wired Journalists job board.  Seems like there are plenty of spots to place ads for generic news jobs, but nowhere to place an ad for a high-end online news job somewhere frequented by the best in their class… This could be profitable, yes?  Authentic Jobs is the model.
  • Put up another baby gate or two. The kid loves practicing her walking with my help.
  • Write much more for Idealab.
  • Do something interesting with a domain I bought recently:
  • Talk with Canon and other companies about sponsoring Wired Journalists so we have some gear to give away by the end of the year.  Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved.  (In giving stuff away, that is.)
  • Move this blog to Django and redesign it, adding a hardcore linkblog element instead of aggregating it from the cloud.

So what’s on your list?

Scobleization plus three years

Three years and two days ago, I got Scobleized.

The highlight of Robert’s informal talk was when he plugged his tablet into the projector in a packed room at the SJSU/MLK library and showed us his aggregator.

It was Bloglines at the time, not that it mattered.

I was blown away by the amount of information — and the quality — that Scoble’s 1200 or so subscriptions provided.

I had started reading a few blogs, and I was probably still using Firefox Live Bookmarks to track them.

By the end of the semester there were more than 200 feeds in my Bloglines account.

That was three years ago, at the very beginning of my New Media / blogging / future-of-newspapers adventures.

Another thing that sticks in my mind that day was Robert’s first question to a newsroom full of “reporting and editing” majors, something along the lines of “How many of you think you’ll be working for a newspaper in 5 or 10 years?”

He lost his audience when he told the roomful of undergraduates with their hands raised that they were wrong, and that they would be working for some other sort of online news organization, or as individual bloggers, but not certainly not in paper- and ink-based news.

Didn’t lose me, though.

Deadline Day, v1.0

Today I turn in 12, count ’em, 12 copies of my 33-page thesis proposal. (The first draft was longer, believe it or not.)

I finished it up last night shortly before 1am, but it’s safe to assume I’ll get it back in September with conditional approval (I hope) and notes on mechanical changes, plus a few pleas for more Rogers and a more detailed explanation of the qualitative analysis I’m planning.

Nonetheless, turning it in now means I get at least two if not three weeks off from screwing around with it, although my preliminary data gathering will continue unabated.

Oh spreadsheet with full little cells, how I pine for thee.

That Master of Science degree I’m working on looks pretty good right about now

Lots of uplifting statistics in the latest Grady College/University of Georgia survey of j-school graduates, but my favorite is the part about how much grad students are making out of the gate:

“Master’s degree recipients in 2005 reported a median salary of $37,000, up from $33,000 in 2004. The 2005 figure was the highest reported going back to 1989 and up by more than $1,000 even in inflation adjusted terms from 2004.”

The full report is here [PDF], and here’s the list of past reports.