WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Associated Press and Google today announced the second recipients of a national scholarship program targeted at college students whose innovative projects exemplify the new journalist in the digital media age. The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, administers the program.
The AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship provides $20,000 scholarships for the 2013-14 academic year to six promising undergraduate or graduate students pursuing or planning to pursue degrees at the intersection of journalism, computer science and new media. A key goal is to promote geographic, gender and ethnic diversity and identify and support creative new talent and work in the field.
With less than two months to go until I graduate from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, I’ve been looking back at my experience over the past two years. I’m among a handful of students at the school who are really interested in data journalism and making pretty and functional online news packages. It’s made me think about how J-schools need a more structured and thorough track for us computer-assisted reporters, for lack of a better term.
Forget the saying. Jacks-and-Jills-of-all-trades are, in fact, masters of one: the agile education. The ability to learn quickly is obviously helpful in all contexts, but it is becoming essential in the world of data journalism.
Nearly every week there is some new hot data visualization tool, social networking service or productivity application to speed up processes. Those who have the ability to stay on top of these rapidly changing technologies have an immense advantage in the job market. To be a successful computational journalist, you need to have an affinity for shiny things.
It would be a hopeless task to know the ins and outs of every piece of technology related to journalism — especially while excelling at school or a full-time job. The only way to stay up to date is to learn by doing.
USA Today writer Michael Wolff deemed Columbia’s selection of Steve Coll as the new dean of its graduate j-school “an audacious statement about news values and direction,” due in part to the fact that Coll isn’t active on Twitter. I guess this means I should give my scholarship back.
Somehow, I never got around to joining Facebook. Or Twitter. Or LinkedIn. Or Google Plus. I also don’t own a smartphone or a tablet device. As a graduate student studying digital media, the irony isn’t lost on me.
As a programmer-journalist studying journalism/computer science, I’ve found myself at the “intersection of journalism and technology” or in the emerging field of computational journalism.
The real issue: How do we use these tools (see: robots) to tell better stories and present information in a correct yet impactful way? How do we leverage machines to do better journalism?
I’ve learned not to get so caught up in the technical flashy stuff that I lose sight of this overarching goal. And that’s why I say programming is the easy part. What good does it do to code a flashy display of charts/figures/data/tables/insert buzzword here if it’s not doing the story justice?
And that’s why I’d like to talk a bit about silos and pods.
You know the stereotype.
There’s nothing less funny than listening to a journalism professor joking that we’re all in this field because we can’t do math. Some of the best journalism being done today only exists because journalists overcame their fear of numbers and dug deep into the data.
Take the L.A. Times’s series on 911 response times. An analysis found stark disparities in the response times of emergency vehicles, and it produced journalism with real impact. Not bad for a bit of math.
Here, I’ll say it: It is possible for a journalist with zero background in code to become a coder.
When you look at a page of code with no understanding of what the characters on the screen stand for, you may go through the following stages: intimidation, frustration, surrender. Programming languages are foreign, as is your understanding of the syntax, the definition of words and concepts used, and how to put it all together into something meaningful. It’s like learning a spoken language.
But fear not, my fellow coding noobs! You can overcome that initial hurdle, that sinking sensation that develops when faced with so much uncertainty, and it’s more painless than you think.
A year ago I built the above atrocity for a class project. We were learning how to use a 3-D software program. For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to form the shape of a rifle out of the number of ships that were attacked by Somali pirates in 2011.
The numbers were gleaned from a public database I had been wanting to use for a while, and the concept was inspired by the photographer Francois Robert’s far superior and moving Stop the Violence project. In my final composite, some three dozen 3-D ship models awkwardly join to form the idea of an assault rifle, the tip pointing towards a globe out of which a plume of misshapen white blobs attempt to represent water splashing.
I’ve been a gamer since I was three years old, when I got a Commodore 64. The love affair hasn’t diminished. If anything, at the age of 30, I realize how significant an impact the games I’ve played have had on my life.
It’s difficult to imagine a situation where gaming, more often a means of entertainment and distraction, can be used to communicate important and real ideas. How can shooting virtual terrorists in Call to Duty or growing a fantasy farm in FarmVille inspire complex game development ideas? While it’s true that not all games are built for narratives or help the player understand a real-world system, many can.
NEW YORK — The Associated Press and Google are seeking candidates for a scholarship program that recognizes student creativity and innovation at the intersection of journalism and technology.
Now in its second year, the AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship Program is administered by the Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists.
The program will award six $20,000 scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students for the 2013-2014 academic year who are pursuing degrees in journalism, computer science and new media. The deadline to apply is Feb. 8, 2013.
“The AP-Google Scholarship Program allows students to delve into projects they otherwise may not be able to pursue,” said Sue Cross, AP’s senior vice president for business development and partner relations in the Americas. “We are excited to support the next generation of digital journalists and create opportunities for them to help shape the future of the news industry.”
Scholarship winners are selected by a distinguished team of leaders from across the digital media industry. A key goal of the program is to promote geographic, gender and ethnic diversity, with an emphasis on rural and urban areas.