How can we teach programming and data skills in the journalism profession?

What is your journalism challenge? What problem are you working to solve?

My challenge is to improve digital awareness and skill among journalists, journalism students and faculty through learning to code. As data visualization becomes a legitimate and important means of storytelling, the demand for people with programming and data skills will increase. I envision an open-source website consisting of several modules, or building blocks, presenting topics with video, code simulation and repositories.

How would solving this problem help journalism?

The future of journalism relies on people who understand the power of digital media. More advanced knowledge of technology is required of people at all levels of a media organization. Communicators need to gain coding skills in an environment that is easily accessible and provides support and context.

Who is tackling a similar problem and how is your approach different?

Lynda.com, CodeAcademy.com and CodeSchool.com offer general purpose programming training. For JournalismSource and Code With Me each offer a different approach in teaching journalists to code. And a cottage industry has emerged providing short courses in Web development, as in Austin’s MakerSquare. My project will fill the need for those just getting started with coding, introducing simple projects and tools in a distributed, online platform. The modules could be used to “train the trainer,” as supplements in college curriculum or by individuals.

What are the immediate questions that you are pursuing now?

  • What are the foundational skills in programming that journalists and other communicators need? How do these skills build upon one another?
  • How do the elements of a programming curriculum differ for communicators than those with technical backgrounds (i.e. engineering and computer science)?
  • What elements of user interface will be most effective in teaching programming to communicators?

What are your next steps?

  • Continued training in advanced programming concepts
  • Initial curriculum development
  • Meetings with Silicon Valley and Stanford resources and journalists to define needs and generate ideas
  • Interface design

I am blogging about this project and my experiences at Stanford at tech.cindyroyal.net.

You are viewing the exploration phase of a year long effort to resolve a challenge to journalism. Learn more about this challenge in the result phase of the process.