The presentation above looks at the emerging trend of journalists who also function as programmers. These hybrid journalists are being born from the convergence of media and technology. With technology’s increasing role in the newsroom, fueled by the growth of the Internet and its expanding ubiquity, hacker-journalists are driven to follow editorial and technological pursuits.
The future of media is being shaped by technological advancements that enhance its scope and flexibility. The current pace of innovation is disrupting traditional content models, shifting the power of distribution and control to the masses. Media and technology are growing ever more intertwined. As their paths cross and merge with one another, so too do the people who used to reside within each sector. Its brought forth creative technologists and journalist programmers. Reporters are being asked to video blog, record podcasts, engage with readers via social networks, utilize mobile platforms to geotag news feeds, and fulfill a range of other duties based around new technologies.
In her study of The New York Times’ Interactive News Technology Department, Cindy Royal, a Texas State University Assistant Professor, discusses the origins of the unique group, and the driving forces behind its ground breaking work. The Interactive Newsroom Technologies unit “…was founded to reduce bureaucracy and introduce flexibility in the process of creating each project, so the group could react more like a reporting team than a support organization.”
“The culture of technology is different than that of journalism,” Royal notes. “They each carry different ideas about objectivity, transparency, sharing of information and performance. By merging these cultures, what emerges in terms of a hybrid dynamic? How do the actors, their backgrounds and training, their processes and the organizational structure affect the products they deliver?”
“The Journalist as Programmer” builds on the work of academics like Michael Schudson and Dan Berkowitz, taking an ethnographic (and, more broadly, sociological) approach to news systems — under the logic, as Royal writes, that “news products and ultimate change are not the result of one force or set of forces, but a complete system that encompasses the organization, individual actors and the culture that surrounds them.”
After all, “programming and data is journalism,” Royal says. “And it can be practiced in such a way that it can create interaction, user engagement, and more information in terms of seeking the truth. Especially when you talk about Freedom of Information access to government data — if the public can have access to that in a way that makes sense to them, or in a way that’s easy for them to use, then that’s just really powerful.