Kevin Schaul

Current school: University of Minnesota
Year in school: Sophomore
Age: 20
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LinkedIn: Kevin Schaul
Google+: Kevin Schaul

I am a Chicagoan who ended up studying at the University of Minnesota – where there is no worthy deep-dish pizza in town. I grew up with the day’s paper in one hand and a programming book in the other. Since moving to Minneapolis, my interests have grown closer together.

I figured I’d have to choose between journalism and computer science when I arrived at college, but my journalism professor told me to pursue both. I couldn’t have gotten better advice.

A few months later, I stumbled upon a blog post by the news apps team at the Chicago Tribune, and I knew exactly what career I wanted to pursue. I still remember the feeling: Someone else recognized the potential for computation to change journalism. I had to help.

I fell in love with the field of computational journalism and attended as many conferences and meetups as I could fit into my schedule. I worked as a copy editor and later online manager at our student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, and I presently work at MinnPost as a jack-of-all-digital-trades.

This summer I will be an intern at the Seattle Times as a digital news producer, where I will work with reporters to realize the potential of the digital platform, creating data project, maps and interactive story formats.

I couldn’t be happier to be studying the intersection of my two biggest interests. After all, who wouldn’t want to do what they love – especially for the betterment of democracy?

The proposal

“Journalists are busy people – people who don’t have time to learn the latest JavaScript framework, or computational thinking in the first place. But show editors a playable dataset or an interactive news feature and they will understand the potential. Let’s make the web simpler for everyone, without toning down its possibilities. Take my simple tool – Box Chart Maker. Sure, it has limitations, but it enables almost any Internet user to create an attractive interactive graphic. A journalist who wants to emphasize a number in their article can click a few buttons on my tool and paste the provided code into their CMS. Tools like this are the reason digital journalism is taking off. We need people to take the learning curve out of creating interactive visualizations.”


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