Project aims to build 'ultimate hacker journalism master’s program'

byMaite Fernandez
Mar 12, 2013 in Data Journalism

"Data journalism for all" is the mission of a new project from journalist-coders who want to give others the skills to develop news apps.

For Journalism surpassed its goal of raising $32,000 through a Kickstarter campaign which ended March 11. It has been backed by newsrooms such as Digital First Media and NBC News.

For Journalism is the brainchild of Web developer Dave Stanton. He came up with the idea after checking out and being disappointed by the curriculum offered in several master’s programs.

“It seems like all of the universities wanted to train Adobe jockeys and not people who actually understood how to use code and data to effectively tell stories,” he said in a Q&A with Source. “So, I asked all the news apps developers I knew and all the people they know what would be the courses they would include in their ultimate hacker journalism master’s program.”

For Journalism will include nine courses, whose topics will range from Ruby on Rails and Django to responsive design and visualization. The courses will also include an e-book, screencasts, code repositories and forums.

“People with no coding skills will be able to take several of these courses. Others will have prerequisites. We want to provide a spectrum of technical topics to take journalists from novice to expert,” Stanton told IJNet.

Each course will demand four hours a week for 16 weeks, similar to a university lab class. One of the goals is for universities to adopt these learning modules in their curricula. “Several universities expressed interest. We’re working on logistics now,” he said.

For Journalism isn't limiting its audience to students. It also wants to cater to working professionals or anyone with an interest in this area.

“We’ll eventually have some shorter stuff as well, but the main objective is to have rigorous courses that truly teach students how to build useful news apps,” Stanton said. For Journalism is considering a pricing model that would offer each course for $20.

Students won't simply complete lessons. They'll be required to put their work on GitHub. “That’s how their skills will be judged – let employers see the code they have written,” he said.

For Journalism won’t stop here; Stanton plans to add more courses as funding becomes available. “[Our plan is to] keep going raising money so that we can add courses and build collaboration tools.”

You can check out For Journalism in Kickstarter here.