Knight Blog

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

What we learned from the first-ever OpenNews Code Convening

April 17, 2014, 12:40 p.m., Posted by Ryan Pitts and Dan Sinker


The following blog, written by Ryan Pitts and Dan Sinker, is cross-posted from

When we talk with newsrooms about open-sourcing their work, often the response we get is that they’d love to, but deadline pressures keep the last-mile work and documentation that signifies a good open-source project on the to-do list. So at OpenNews, we came up with a simple proposition: What if we free up that time by getting developers out of the deadline grind? Let’s put them up for a few days, feed them, and help get the work done.

Last week, we brought eight news developers to Portland, Oregon, to pilot the concept. We’re calling these type of get-togethers “Code Convenings,” and last week’s was the first of many that OpenNews will organize over the next three years. We had developers from the New York Times, NPR, ProPublica, WNYC, Al Jazeera America, and Github, and together they released:

·       Pym.js: An NPR library enabling responsive iframes for embedded graphics

·       PourOver and Tamper: A New York Times library and protocol pair that let you quickly filter datasets with thousands of records, right in the browser

·       Landline + Stateline: A ProPublica tool for creating easy SVG maps that work across all browsers

·       FourScore: A WNYC graphic template for capturing reader sentiments in an elegant 2D chart

Each team has introduced their projects here on Source, and we also wanted to share our own process and things we learned from this event.

New Leaders Council Philadelphia expands training program

April 16, 2014, 8:56 a.m., Posted by Kellan White


Kellan White is co-director of New Leaders Council Philadelphia, which Knight Foundation supports to help recruit and train the city’s next generation of leaders. Photo credit: New Leaders Council Philadelphia.

At some point every leader answers the call of leadership. They are faced with a challenge, they make a choice and then they take action. Too often these actions are done in silos and though small change is accomplished, that change is not sustainable. When leaders seek out other leaders and break the silos, they accomplish real sustainable change. This is why I joined the 2013 New Leaders Council Fellowship class and became co-director of New Leaders Council Philadelphia in September.

New Leaders Council is a nonprofit that recruits, trains and promotes the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow: trendsetters, elected officials and civically engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future.

In Philadelphia, there is the belief that as a city we will do better depending on the contributions of the next generation of leaders. The New Leaders Council gives young leaders the opportunity to sharpen their skills and build their networks to effectively collaborate and create change. We do this not just in Philadelphia but in 30 other cities and regions across the United States, including Miami, Missoula, Mont., New York and San Francisco.

Designing a common living room for the people of Charlotte, N.C.

April 16, 2014, 8:56 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

The Human Scale official trailer via YouTube

In the months ahead, people who live, work and play in Uptown Charlotte will have a chance to imagine what North Tryon Street could become.

Tryon Street – in the museum mile stretching from the cultural campus at the south end to the McColl Center for Visual Art at the north end – is the spine of our center city. The southern end has become a lively, dynamic destination for Uptown workers and out-of-town visitors. Corporate towers dominate the streetscape.

The northern half of Tryon has important civic assets as well, but the area is less developed as you move away from The Square. There are fewer and lower towers, empty lots and parking lots, and some publicly owned land available for future development. As many see it, there’s the opportunity.

In just one block, for example, we have Discovery Place, our popular science museum, the main branch of the public library, and our beloved sanctuary-turned-performance-hall, called Spirit Square. What if their physical spaces and programming were created in concert? I could imagine this area in the heart of Uptown becoming the city’s new living room, a place where people of all ages from all areas of town would come together to mix and mingle and share ideas.