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See you at NICAR

Hello, hacks and hackers! We made it through Valentine’s Day (at least, those of us who live in countries that celebrate it) and we’re now less than a month from the popular NICAR conference. If you’re planning to go, join us for lunch in the hotel restaurant and catch up with organizers.

The week ahead:

Chapter spotlight:

London, which successfully transitioned away from using Meetup last year, has continued to hold a meetup every month on the dot. Joanna Geary, who has since moved on to other locales, said the organizers use a variety of tools to keep in touch, including an email list for volunteers, a MailChimp list for attendees and an Eventbrite account for announcing events.

“Running a Whatsapp group that can be used as a way to communicate during the events, which keeps things on time!”

The group is meeting next week to talk about “facts, fake facts and alternative facts.” You can follow their adventures at #HHldn.

Worth a read:

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

  • February:
  • March:
    • 2-5 – Jacksonville, USA – National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference
    • 10-11 – Milan, Italy – Visualized Milan
    • 10-16 – Austin, USA – SXSW Interactive Festival
    • 15-16 – London, UK – The Guardian Changing Media Summit
    • 23 – Miami, USA – Journalists & Editors workshop on Mobile Media Culture in the Americas
    • 29-31 – Brussels, Belgium – RightsCon for a freer Internet
    • 31-1 – Tonsberg, Norway – SKUP conference for investigative reporters and editors in Norway
  • April:
    • 5-9 – Perugia, Italy – International Journalism Festival
    • 15-16 – Austin, USA – International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ)
  • May:
    • 1-4 – Jakarta, Indonesia – UNESCO’s conference for World Press Freedom Day
    • 4-6 – Galway, Ireland – MoJoCon Mobile Journalism Conference
    • 15-20 – San Salvador, El Salvador – Forum for Central American Journalism
    • 18-20 – Hamburg, Germany – International Press Institute World Congress on media freedom in the digital age
    • 18-21 – Mechelen, Belgium – Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference


New Orleans becomes a hackathon hub

Greetings, hacks and hackers! It was a packed week last week for Hacks/Hackers chapters, with Caracas launching its own two-day Data Party, Singapore building tools together and Philadelphia taking a peep at some awesome National Geographic projects.

Plus, New Orleans‘ first hackathon generated so much interest among journos, coders and others in the area it looks like the beginning of a beautiful series of hackathons in the Gulf region. Organizer Samantha Sunne wrote about the hackathon and the cool projects it brought into the world for the Hacks/Hackers website. Check it out:

The week ahead:

Chapter spotlight:

New Orleans, which launched six months ago, cut straight to chase and held a hackathon last weekend. Organizer Troy Thibodeaux said the event was great fun and a great success. “We were fortunate to have so many talented participants whose interests converged around issues important to our community: housing, recycling, safety, public services and wetlands preservation,” he said.

Organizer Samantha Sunne wrote roundup of the projects for the website.

Worth a read:

  • With elections coming up, newsrooms in France are partnering with Facebook and Google to fight fake news (FirstDraftNews)
  • Poynter offers tips on covering Trump-related issues in your community without making the coverage all about Trump (Poynter)
  • The BBC is funding 150 “local democracy reporters” at local newsrooms across the U.K. (Press Gazette)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

  • February:
    • 11-12 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Hackathon for Humanitarian Aid
    • 16-17 – Warsaw, Poland – #RockitWAW, a networking conference for digital communications professionals
    • 18-19 – Tucson, USA – News Hack Arizona
    • 24-26 – Boston, USA – MisinfoCon, a summit on misinformation
  • March:
    • 2-5 – Jacksonville, USA – National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference
    • 10-11 – Milan, Italy – Visualized Milan
    • 10-16 – Austin, USA – SXSW Interactive Festival
    • 15-16 – London, UK – The Guardian Changing Media Summit
    • 23 – Miami, USA – Journalists & Editors workshop on Mobile Media Culture in the Americas
    • 29-31 – Brussels, Belgium – RightsCon for a freer Internet
    • 31-1 – Tonsberg, Norway – SKUP conference for investigative reporters and editors in Norway
  • April:
    • 5-9 – Perugia, Italy – International Journalism Festival
    • 15-16 – Austin, USA – International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ)
  • May:
    • 1-4 – Jakarta, Indonesia – UNESCO’s conference for World Press Freedom Day
    • 4-6 – Galway, Ireland – MoJoCon Mobile Journalism Conference
    • 18-20 – Hamburg, Germany – International Press Institute congress on media freedom in the digital age
    • 18-21 – Mechelen, Belgium – Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference


New Orleans kicks off hackathon series

By Samantha Sunne

Hacks/Hackers New Orleans held its first hackathon this week, digging into dirty assessment data, partial wetlands maps, unanswered recycling questions and other problems just waiting to be solved. The organizers partnered with ONA, which also opened a New Orleans group last year. The HH Nola chapter has grown to almost 200 members since it launched about six months ago.

“We were fortunate to have so many talented participants whose interests converged around issues important to our community,” organizer Troy Thibodeaux said. “Each group came away with some wonderful progress to show for the day, and the call for a follow-up was pretty much unanimous.”

The event drew about 30 people, congregating around topics like public safety and real estate data. The final projects were:

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 7.22.48 AMPrecycle

You’d think a town famous for drinking would know how to recycle, but no. There’s widespread confusion about what you can recycle and where – or if you can even recycle at all. A team put together a demo app called Precycle that informs users of their recycling items and days, and even offers automated reminders. The team planned to expand the app to include compost.

Gulf Wetlands map

The Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental nonprofit, has been trying to analyze wetlands use permits, but struggling to wrangle with some data stored in levelDB. One attendee wrote a parser, and over the course of the day they managed to get the data into a usable format. Next, the group will use it to populate a map of wetlands uses in the Gulf area. Users can see who owns the permit, as well as links to the document itself and deadlines for adding public comment. The current map, seen here, will be expanded by end of 2018 to include Texas and Florida.

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 1.23.44 PMNola guns

Another map produced at the hackathon was of “firearm discharge” incidents in New Orleans, one of the most crime-ridden cities in the U.S. The team wanted to check for a correlation between firearm discharges and neighborhoods, and surprisingly, the tourist-heavy French Quarter was one of the densest areas of the map. In the future, a teammember said, they hope to make the map automatically update.

Calls for Service

Crime data is always some of the most popular data around, for nerds and average citizens alike. Somewhat similar to the guns team, the 911 team put together a visualization dashboard, including a map of calls for service. The tool uses an API to automatically pull data from the New Orleans open data portal. It can be downloaded as HTML and reused for other projects – just replace the data source!

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 1.26.02 PM311 app

The local CfA brigade, Code for New Orleans, has been interested in 311 data for a while, and found some brothers in arms at the hackathon. They ended up creating a survey to get feedback about the 311 system and started investigating why the city doesn’t already have an app for submitting issues into the 311 system. Building a mobile app was out of scope for this particular hackathon, but may be a project to tackle in the future.

Assessment data

This team didn’t end up with a friendly public-facing app, sadly, but they certainly tried their hardest. Several intrepid hackers struggled to clean a monster set of 10 years of state assessment data, getting it significantly closer to usability. At least now the data can accessed via several CSVs, rather than writing code. A local reporter expressed interest in using it for a story, and in fact, assessment data was the most popular topic among all at the hackathon.

The assessment data is one project that is likely to be continued at another hackathon at a later date. Several attendees expressed interest in a series of civic hacking hackathons, something of a rare occurrence in New Orleans. More hacking and problem-solving to come!

#JournalismJobs on every continent

Welcome to February, hacks and hackers. We had a packed global call on Wednesday where we first unveiled the new website (still in prototype form). What do you think?

Also, we’ve got journalism jobs on every continent this week, and journalism events leading into May, so read on:

The week ahead:

  • New Orleans is holding a hackathon with ONA
  • Singapore is building a socio-economic privilege calculator
  • Caracas is holding a Data Party
  • Philadelphia is hearing about cool projects from National Geographic
  • IRE in Missouri is holding its weekly open lab

Chapter spotlight:

Nairobi organizer Flo Sipalla shared a blog post she wrote on the group’s meetup last week, a roundtable discussion on how to combat fake news.

She said the Africa regional group uses a combination of sites to make, promote and track their events:

If you decide five platforms aren’t enough for you, check out other chapters’ experiments with Meetup, Github, Slack, MailChimp and Eventbrite.

Worth a read:

  • MuckRock’s Slack channel for FOIA discussions has gained more than 1500 members since Trump’s election (Poynter)
  • Colombian journalists are using digital tools to create their own databases when the government can’t or won’t give them accurate data (Knight Center)
  • The Washington Post is filling the gaps exposed by the presidential election with freelancers placed all over the U.S. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

  • February:
  • March:
    • 2-5 – Jacksonville, USA – National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference
    • 10-11 – Milan, Italy – Visualized Milan
    • 10-16 – Austin, USA – SXSW Interactive Festival
    • 15-16 – London, UK – The Guardian Changing Media Summit
    • 23 – Miami, USA – Journalists & Editors workshop on Mobile Media Culture in the Americas
    • 29-31 – Brussels, Belgium – RightsCon for a freer Internet
    • 31-1 – Tonsberg, Norway – SKUP conference for investigative reporters and editors in Norway
  • April:
    • 5-9 – Perugia, Italy – International Journalism Festival
    • 15-16 – Austin, USA – International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ)
  • May:
    • 1-4 – Jakarta, Indonesia – UNESCO’s conference for World Press Freedom Day
    • 4-6 – Galway, Ireland – MoJoCon Mobile Journalism Conference
    • 18-20 – Hamburg, Germany – International Press Institute congress on media freedom in the digital age
    • 18-21 – Mechelen, Belgium – Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference

 


Announcing MisinfoCon

Welcome to another Friday, hacks and hackers! We’ve got a bigger announcement than usual this week:

Several Hacks/Hackers organizers, including Jenny 8. Lee, Burt Herman and Phillip Smith, have launched an anti-fake news event called MisinfoCon in Boston. It’s coming up in one short month, so put it on your calendar and tell your colleagues.

The week ahead:

  • Warsaw is holding a Q&A with some of the biggest news outlets in Poland
  • New York is holding a workshop on how to build web notifications
  • Brisbane is planning more events in a pub and is therefore meeting for an event aptly titled Planning in a Pub
  • Portland is holding an informal brainstorming session
  • Singapore is collaborating on a ‘privilege calculator’ project
  • Miami and IRE are holding their regular weekly open labs

Chapter spotlight:

Last week, Singapore met for an event called “A Study in Moire: Code Art with D3 / Greensock.” Organizer Rebecca Pazos said the group recently committed to meet the third Monday of every month, in an attempt to organize themselves and build their community better.

“Plus for our own sanity as co-organisers it can be difficult to find the time to organise, so setting ourselves a ‘deadline’ has helped us to stay focused and not over-commit.”

Worth a read:

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

  • January:
    • 27-28 – Odense, Denmark – NODA17, the Nordic Data Journalism Conference
    • 31-1 – London, UK – #newsHACK, the BBC’s transcription hackathon
  • February:
  • March:
    • 2-5 – Jacksonville, USA – National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference
    • 15-16 – London, UK – The Guardian Changing Media Summit
    • 31-1 – Tonsberg, Norway – SKUP conference for investigative reporters and editors in Norway

 

Seven first events of 2017: Nairobi, Joburg, Singapore and more

Happy Friday, hacks and hackers. After a winter hibernation (or summer nap, for those in the southern hemisphere), seven Hacks/Hackers chapters are holding their first events of 2017, including in Asia, Europe, North America and Africa.

The week ahead:

Chapter spotlight:

Earlier this week, Rio de Janeiro invited Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, to come speak to the group. This was organizer Gabriela Mafort‘s first time putting together a Hacks/Hackers event, and she said having a well-known speaker helped get the word out. “Having Nick Denton as our first speaker was a great incentive to move forward!”

IMG-20170118-WA0009

Worth a read:

  • Paul Bradshaw distilled more than 25 years of online journalism into 41 key moments (Online Journalism Blog)
  • The Guardian published a long read on how dependence on statistics eventually led audiences to utterly disregard statistics (Guardian)
  • Facebook announced the Facebook Journalism Project, which, according to the NYT, means the company is “increasingly owning up to its role as one of the world’s largest distributors of information” (NYTimes)
  • TechDirt is in danger of being imploded by Silicon Valley billionaires, a la Gawker (VentureBeat)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

  • January:
  • February:
  • March:
    • 2-5 – Jacksonville, USA – National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference
    • 31-1 – Tonsberg, Norway – SKUP conference for investigative reporters and editors in Norway

 

Dozens of Hacks/Hackers jobs open up in the first weeks of 2017

It’s a new year, hacks and hackers, and newsrooms seem to be ushering in the new: more than two dozen job openings were posted since our last newsletter, ranging from Research Professor to Motion Graphics Editor. The Washington Post alone named eight new openings on its new rapid-response investigations team.

Chapter spotlight:

San Francisco – the original Hacks/Hackers chapter – has held nearly five dozen events since 2009, when it was first founded. This year they’ve collaborated often with other Bay Area interest groups, like the Solutions Journalism Network and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Ryan Singel, one of the current organizers, said he was surprised by how much luck he has had searching for a partner or venue with a good old-fashioned social media call. For a recent event, he said,

“I couldn’t find any room in our usual spots, so tweeted out that we needed a space and what the topic was. That landed us an invite from a local security company called OpenDNS, which also then bought pizza and drinks for the get-together. This won’t always work, but a tweet is free, so worth a shot.”

Worth a read:

  • The Boston Globe is finding success engaging with readers in a Facebook group just for subscribers, rather than its Facebook page at large (NiemanLab)
  • The Chicago Reporter used tools built by other journalists, like Tarbell and the Django Boundary Service, to do its enormous project on police misconduct (Source)
  • Media columnist Margaret Sullivan called for journalists to stop using the term “fake news” and instead use more specific terms (Washington Post)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

 

Hacks/Hackers enters 2017

Welcome to a new year, hacks and hackers! 2016 was a tumultuous one for many Hacks/Hackers groups around the world, and 2017 may or may not be more stable. Last week we featured NiemanLab’s predictions for the coming year; this week we look back at ProPublica’s year in visual storytelling.

Chapter spotlight:

Austin held a series of events last year, ranging from a D3 workshop to a massive Connect event. Organizer Cindy Royal said the organizers, who come from two local universities, two local news outlets and one national outlet, take turns organizing events, resulting in four or five events a year.

Distributing work this way maximizes what the group can accomplish while keeping the workload on organizers as light as possible. Check out more tips from organizers on the Hacks/Hackers website.

Worth a read:

Upcoming events:

 

A very newsy year comes to a close

It’s the end of 2016, hacks and hackers, a year of cultural and political trends, movements and upsets. These trends in different regions have led to a serious questioning of transparency (both for governments and journalists), the use of open data and prediction models.

There are certainly enough opinions, think pieces and tweet storms to cover these topics already, so I will focus on what we do best: building the future of news, when we can, and hacking it together when we can’t.

Chapter spotlight:

Bogota, Colombia, held a hackathon in August called “Hackeando la Educación“, or “Hacking Education.” Two civic organizations presented projects they were working on – Datos Al Tablero and Ciudatos – which aim to improve open data in this area. Organizer Daniel Suárez Pérez said he would like to continue doing hackathons in the same space.

“Fue muy interesante ver que reunimos a 60 personas, y que entre los asistentes, había desarrolladores, maestros, periodistas, investigadores que ya tenían sus iniciativas y que querían buscar alianzas para sacar adelante sus proyectos. Para ellos, espacios como el de Hackeando la Educación, se convierten en una oportunidad para compartir experiencias, crear una red y combinar esfuerzos para potenciar los resultados.”

“It was really interesting to see we gathered 60 people, and between the attendees, there were designers, teachers, journalists, researchers who already had their initiatives and who wanted to look for teams to bring their projects forward. For them, spaces like Hackeando la Educación become an opportunity to share experiences, create a network and join forces to strengthen their results.”

Check out our Hackathon Tips to stage your own hackathon.

Worth a read:

  • Google seems to be taking steps to counteract fake news, as holocaust denial sites have disappeared from the first page of search results (Search Engine Land)
  • In other news on fake news, Snopes, a site once dedicated to busting urban legends, has found new relevance and audience during and after the U.S. election (NYT)
  • Trump’s deregulation and trade plans may actually be promising for the tech world (Recode)
  • NiemanLab released its collection of Predictions for Journalism 2017 (NiemanLab)

Job openings:

Upcoming events:

Nairobi talks transparency; job postings pile up across the globe

hh_holiday_logo

Happy holidays, hacks and hackers, to those of you celebrating. To everyone else, I hope you are staying warm (or cool, depending on your hemisphere). Many chapters are either celebrating or hibernating right about now, but job postings are up in other parts of the world – check out the list below:

Chapter spotlight:

The Hacks/Hackers Africa chapter in Nairobi met last week to discuss how digital activism can aid government accountability, and vice versa. Organizer Florence Sipalla wrote about the talk on the H/H Africa blog:

Serah Njambi Rono, who used to organize in Nairobi, suggested other organizers start a habit of recapping or blogging about their events. A volunteer blogger will take notes, interact with the audience and even sometimes interview the speakers.

“This ensures that other Hacks/Hackers chapters the world over know what your chapter is up to and can borrow a leaf, serve as grounds for collaboration, et al.”

Worth a read:

Job openings:

Upcoming events: