Why I build for news.
First of all, it’s rewarding. You make stuff that real people see. Do your friends and family know what you do? Well, mine still don’t really understand what I do, but they actually use what I make.
There is always a new project. We’re constantly iterating. You’re not building a single thing for months or years. We build quick things wrong and start over and learn. Not only do you learn from your mistakes, there is always a next opportunity to do things right.
The people in this industry are amazing. Journalists are generally smart, well read and interesting people. In my experience, most of them are down-to-earth and are happy to lend a hand or give advice. All this amounts to a work environment unlike I’ve ever experienced before entering the news industry.
There are things that need to be fixed, and everyone realizes this. Executives to copy editors, sales people to beat reporters. News orgs need help. Some are doing better than others. Often the problems are bureaucratic, organizational or financial, but all of them have technological problems that need smart, driven hackers.
Myself and others like me have been almost universally be welcomed by newsrooms in recent years. However it hasn’t been all rainbows and puppies, we have encountered serious bureaucratic, organizational, financial and technical challenges that have made us wonder whether we are truly welcome. But as with any industry with decades of momentum, change happens more slowly then we would like. And change requires people who make it happen.
Most importantly I build for news because I’m building for myself. News and information, learning and knowledge is an extremely important part of my life. The free flow of knowledge that the internet has made possible has brought me happiness, wonder and purpose. I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it.
If you want to get involved, check out the Knight-Mozilla fellowships or spend a year learning how to journalism at Northwestern University (my alma mater), with the help of a Knight scholarship.