The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 05, 2013

Innovative training puts journalists and technologists on the same planet

Posted by Marie Gilot

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Above: A session at Global Editors Network conference.

In today’s newsrooms, journalists often share physical space with designers and developers but in so many ways, they might as well be on different planets –planets with different languages, different priorities, different habits. It’s a cultural gap that is hard to breach.

In its report on post-industrial journalism, the Tow Center at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said news institutions should do a better job rewarding journalistic collaboration, with recognition and awards, among other things. This goes against the grain in an industry used to competition, scoops and single bylines. But it’s the way that more nimble startups are disrupting the legacy media.

Enter the Knight-funded Editors’ Lab, a series of innovative training sessions organized by the Global Editors Network and designed to bring multi-skill collaborations into newsrooms. At each session, teams made of one journalist, one developer and one designer from the same newsrooms map out news apps and a panel of judges picks out a winner. The different regions’ winners will meet again to compete in a final hackathon at the GEN News Summit in taking place in Paris from June 19 -21. Here are some of them:

  • An app that scrapes data from insurance companies to visualize car robbery statistics from the Clarin newsroom in Buenos Aires.
  • An app called "Flowers of Integration" that uses Facebook data to identify immigrants (users whose hometown is foreign) and counts the number of Facebook friends they have made in their adopted country, as a proxy for integration. The team from the Zeit Online newsroom in Hamburg, Germany, then displays the results as a flower.
  • A CMS tool called “Game Center” by the Chicago Tribune that allows news sites to create surveys and games and increase readers’ engagement with the news.

The Editors’ Lab goes to Berlin and Paris next but whoever wins the final hackathon, the real prize will be to promote a culture of collaboration and innovation inside newsrooms.

Antoine Laurent is the director of the Editors’ Lab  and can be reached at

By Marie Gilot, media innovation associate at Knight Foundation

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