During the last 24 months, we’ve had ups and downs and sideways.
More than 600 lovely humans have worked through the video tutorials to some extent. Hundreds more attended training sessions during the last two Online News Association conferences in Atlanta and Chicago. We’ve heard from a bunch of folks who learned from and continue to reference the awesome material from Michelle Minkoff, Jeremy Bowers, Ken Schwencke, Mike Tigas and Ryan Pitts at forjounalism.com, as well as Jen Lindner, Kaitlen Exum, Kawandeep Virdee, and others from conference workshops.
We’re hard at work on an aggregation service, and you’ll be updated when the public beta is ready in August. Interested in just data visualization? We’ll help you find it. Looking for in-person training in your city? We’ll help connect you. Not sure what you need? We’ll have a best-of-the-best feed as well.
We originally planned to generate ebooks and other more permanent editions by partnering with the folks at publet.com. Publet started as a create-once-publish-everywhere platform, and this worked very well for our initial content release. Over the last 18 months, Publet pivoted toward a reading-analytics product, and the featureset diverged from what FJ needed. As a consequence, generating more permanent editions was going to require a bunch of manual production.
As we were trying to take a multi-platform publishing approach, our biggest challenge emerged: upgrades. We pondered ways to allow the content to stay current to framework versions, but we couldn’t find a reasonable solution other than re-recording everything for each minor-version release. Django, for example, was 1.4 when Jeremy recorded his material. Now Django is at 1.8. We played with annotation and commenting options, but nothing was good enough. We wanted the material to be very approachable, and digging out syntax changes from annotations is anything but friendly. Jeremy and everyone poured so much heart into their first round of content. Re-recording is not sustainable, nor is it fair for instructors to feel compelled to keep everything current in perpetuity.
But the world moves forward! NICAR has seen record attendance year over year. ONA continues to bolster its technical training during conferences. SND is paying serious attention to the design aspects of digital journalism both through its conference program and the amazing SNDMakes series of prototyping events. Universities are hiring data faculty, and existing faculty are stepping up to include data topics throughout the curriculum.
There are more and more places for people to learn, discuss and be inspired by data journalism. From the onset, we specifically did not want to create content that was competing with initiatives from other organizations. We wanted to fill training gaps until our journalism communities organically filled these gaps.
Does this mean we’re closing down the FJ shop? No!
There may be tons of training and content from journalism organizations and creators now, but we still see the need of an editing function to bubble up the best training, and to provide context for why the training is useful, for whom it is most useful, and what problems the training could help journalists empower themselves to solve.
We want to thank you all so much for your continual support through the good and bad so far. We’re hopeful that our next steps will continue to empower journalists, as well as surface the amazing work across all the permutations of modern data and visual journalism.
Best, Dave and the FJ Crew