In the spirit of the animated, multi-faceted debate going on about whether or not journalists should learn how to code, it seems like a good time to help introduce For Journalism, a startup seeking to offer data journalism and programming skills to the journalist of the future.
It’s safe to say which side of the fence For Journalism is on when it comes to the topic of how much technical knowledge writers and reporters should have — they say explicitly that we’re suffering from a “pipeline problem for people with data and programming skills for journalism.”
The project, spearheaded by Dave Stanton, a developer and Poynter technology fellow, provides journalists with curriculum on everything from Ruby on Rails (an open-source coding and programming resource) and Django, to creating meaningful pieces of data for accompanying journalistic work. Courses cost $20 and include an informational e-book, screencasts, code repositories and forums.
“For Journalism is an effort to equip every student, mid-career journalist, professor and graduate student with the knowledge they need to learn technical skills for doing journalism,” reads the Kickstarter page For Journalism used for the financial boost they needed to get up and running (which, by the way, they’ve only done in the last couple of weeks, already giving every active Online News Association member, plus Kickstarter supporters, an invite to the site). There are plenty of resources out there about compiling data, building charts, or news app developing, for example, but none explain how to accomplish those goals within the context of journalism — something that For Journalism thinks makes all the difference.
Each course offered by For Journalism is taught by reputable, seasoned journalists trained in the area of expertise they’re teaching (don’t worry, I vetted all their Twitter resumes), so it’s legit. Stanton told journlism.co.uk that he consulted industry professionals and basically asked them, “What kind of newsroom skills do you want your journalists to have?” before narrowing down the subject matter.
Their ultimate goal is to develop educational content for large groups, particularly big newsrooms and university classrooms. It’s not an unreachable vision at all, since For Journalism has the support of the Digital First Media and NBC News newsrooms, which both contributed to the Kickstarter.
Right now, For Journalism offers ten planned courses, but some aren’t ready to purchase yet. Will you be taking advantage of the classes? Are you passionate about becoming a code monkey/journalism extraordinaire?
But first, let’s revisit the 10,000 Words flowchart that should surely help you answer the burning, controversial question… “Should I learn how to program?”