As I was looking for something completely different (which is very typical for web searches), I found this great article in Columbia Journalism Review about Wiring Journalism 2.0. Its about how media adopts to new digital technologies, and one of the questions Brad Stenger (co-organizer of the recent conference “Journalism 3G: The Future of Technology in the Field”) asks, is “why shouldn’t journalists program”? I think that is a very appropriate question, and I expect to see more programming journalists such as Adrian Holovaty in the newsroom in the years ahead.
But the computing journalists are quite rare, according to the article:
“CB: It sounds like this type of journalist that’s fluent in both halves of the operation is still pretty rare. Did the Georgia Tech conference address that?
BS: Well, we didn’t know how rare. Yeah, I think it does bear out that it is, but no one has really checked to see. And the truth of it will materialize in the next three to six months, if we see the progress in actual projects and actual things that get done.”
This is something journalism schools really has to address, and I think some of them have a problem in convincing their students of the opportunities they have in digital media. I just remember an article I read in the Norwegian media news-site Journalisten a few months ago, where journalism students said it was less prestigious to work for online media.
If you wonder what computational-journalism really is, here Spenger gives it to us with a spoon:
BS: That’s really the essence of computational journalism-that you’re building tools that deal with streams of information. You deal with streams on the pre-production, research, reporting, newsgathering, sensemaking, insight-generating side of things, to develop news stories and find out where trends are going and what hasn’t been told to the public. And then once that’s done, there’s the final product, the public-facing side of the machinery – and once you’ve got something figured out, these sorts of machines can be built to run and run and run.