Building a Guide to Open-Sourcing Newsroom Code, Together

Eleven contributors, two days in D.C., one draft

So many reasons, so many Post-Its.

This week, eleven contributors gathered with us in Washington, D.C. to work on a new resource—a playbook for open-sourcing newsroom code. (Update: Here’s how that playbook turned out! Introducing the Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom.) Together we hoped to tackle a question that’s come up again and again: how to help more newsrooms produce open-source projects, so that everyone can spend more time on great journalism instead of re-creating common tools, tech, and datasets from scratch.

This two-day meetup was a spinoff of our regular OpenNews code convenings. Typically, code convening participants come together, away from the pressure of daily deadlines, to document individual code projects. OpenNews provides workspace, snacks (always snacks), and a supportive structure. For this convening though, instead of working on separate projects, everyone jammed on the same set of documents, building the first draft of a guidebook for open-sourcing newsroom code. They worked in pairs or small groups, collaborating for long stretches of writing on both days. Their first draft covers everything from why open-source matters, to getting to the first release, to handoffs and sunsets.

Photo of participants

Katie Park (left) talks with Kavya Sukumar and Jeremy Bowers.

Next, we’ll turn the draft over to a team of remote editors who’ve signed on to take the next crack at the book. After that, we’ll make it available to the public via GitHub, so that it can get better and better with each pull request, before we finalize the first edition in a PDF and/or printed version—and we’ll post our expected timeline for those releases as soon as we have it.

Screenshot from collaborative Google Doc

The melée-style creation of a README.


Our band of tireless in-person writers:

  • Jeremy Bowers
  • David Forbes
  • Jane Friedhoff
  • Sumana Harihareswara
  • Kaeti Hinck
  • Adam Schweigert
  • Kavya Sukumar
  • Alan Palazzolo
  • Katie Park

(With special assists from Ryan Sholin and Jacob Harris.)

And here’s our excellent team of remote editors:

  • Bissie Anderson
  • Daniel Bachhuber
  • Mallory Busch
  • Bradley Fields
  • James Gordon
  • Ted Han
  • Jacob Harris
  • John Heasly
  • Ændrew Rininsland
  • Ryan Sholin
  • Amanda Wegrzyn
  • Derek Willis

Thanks to all who’ve supported this project so far with their time and hard work, and to NPR for hosting us in D.C. for the convening. We’re looking forward to getting this resource out into the world, and seeing more and more open-source newsroom projects out there, too.

Photo of Sumana Harihareswara

Sumana Harihareswara’s perfect standing desk, the NPR boardroom podium.




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