Introducing Source Guides
Topical collections for readers new and experienced
In the two-and-a-bit years we’ve been publishing Source, we’ve built up a solid archive of project walkthroughs, introductions to new tools and libraries, and case studies. They’re all tagged and searchable, but as with most archives presented primarily in reverse-chron order, pieces tend to attract less attention once they fall off the first page of a given section.
We’ve also been keeping an eye out for ways of inviting in readers who haven’t been following along since we started Source, and who may be a little newer to journalism code—either to the “code” or the “journalism” part.
Earlier this year, we got the OpenNews team together for a few workdays in space graciously lent to us by the New York Times, and in our discussion of the two above challenges, we hit on the idea of packaging articles from our archives into topical “guides” that could highlight the most useful and evergreen of our articles on a given subject. Ryan extended our CMS to allow for the easy creation of topical collections via the admin interface, and we started collecting and annotating pieces a few weeks ago.
Today, we’re launching Source Guides with three topics: News Apps Essentials and Better Mapping, which are just what they say on the tin; and the Care and Feeding of News Apps, a beyond-the-basics Guide that considers the introduction, maintenance, and eventual archiving of code projects in newsrooms. In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out a few more batches of Guides, and then adding to the list organically as new themes coalesce in the archives.
Archives as Map
On the editorial side, the process of trawling through the archives looking for natural subject divisions has been interesting in itself—looking for existing themes in our older material has been a great way to spot holes in our coverage and think through the kinds of things that will be useful in the future as well as this week or this year. As we go through the next year, we’ll be acquiring articles with Guides in mind, and as the Guides themselves grow and solidify, we’ll move toward additional ways of making them available: ebooks, extended/revised editions, and POD print manuals are all on our list of possible futures.
Tell Us What You Need
As is always true at OpenNews, the things we do are only a success when they’re useful to the people actually making things in news organizations. If you find yourself wishing for a Guide in a specific subject area—for yourself or your colleagues in the newsroom—send us a note and let us know, and we’ll add it to the list of topics to work toward.