Hello from our new editor, and how you can help
Last week, we had a shift change here at Source, and I’m so thrilled to be taking over as editor. We’ll have one less amazing human on staff, but the OpenNews team is collectively stepping up to fill the gap.
I’ve been with Source for three years now, and it’s always been a dreamy-dream role for me. I was an early nerd about the open web, and the ability to “view source” and publish online felt like real power to a teenager in a rural place bounded by country highways. I’ve worked in journalism in one way or another since high school, starting with the Buffalo News.
But I’ve also been fascinated by creative methods and processes from my work in other disciplines—how theater artists collaborate, how designers approach new problems, how the civic tech sector uses data, how activists challenge power structures. All of these experiences inform my outlook as Source’s editor and as part of OpenNews. We’re thinking about code, but we’re also thinking about how news nerds can work together better, handle completely new and stressful challenges, think through the ethics and intricacies of data, and build diverse, world-changing teams.
More than anything, I love helping Source’s contributors share their work with the world in a clear and compelling way, making their knowledge and opinions more widely accessible. Light years ago in Twitter epochs, Nicole Cliffe asked for childhood stories that illuminate something about your grown-up self. Here’s mine: One afternoon in first grade, I took yellow construction paper and a maroon crayon from the art bin, folded the paper into a tent, and made a sign for my desk that said, “If you need help, please come hear.”
I meant, you know, “here.”
I’d finished a math worksheet early and thought maybe another kid needed a hand with it.
A funny thing happened next. One by one, kids started replicating the sign for their own desks. By lunchtime, every single kid had one (reproducing the same typo, an editor’s true nightmare.) We became a sea of helpers, flying our various colors of construction-paper signs. We knelt at each others’ desks or scooched our tiny chairs together, working this way for a solid week, until our teacher sensed an uprising and shut it down.
It was a distributed groundswell of helpfulness and knowledge-sharing. And, in retrospect, that spirit is everything I love about the humans who contribute to Source and who make up the community of OpenNews.
Join us, won’t you?
What We’re Looking For
While we transition into Source’s new mode throughout the spring, we’re open for pitches, including…
1) Project walkthroughs. All parts of the process, whether it’s the code, the design process, the workflow, the data gathering, some combination of these, or something we’ve never considered. We’re also looking for shorter Q&As about your projects, and we can set that up with you.
2) Puzzles you’re solving. New approaches to challenges, long-shot code fixes, successful last-minute scrambles, or productive ways to arrange workflow or communications. I’m also interested in the non-shiny, timeworn success—the process you’ve perfected that could save someone else a ton of time. If it would make a good lightning talk, it could make a good Source piece, and (bonus!) can be longer.
3) A broad look at a particular category of thing. Roundups of how various news orgs used data to cover similar topics, collections of good or terrible charts, a critique of language across a swath of HR policies.
As always, we’re explicitly interested in pitches from women and people of color, as well as folks in small, international, or non-coastal newsrooms, and we can often provide a small honorarium. We’ll work that out when we talk about your idea.
Send pitches and Q&A ideas to email@example.com. Our guidelines are here.
Source jobs is a readymade home for news nerd job postings of all kinds. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a position to post and need a login, or browse the listings. Listings are also auto-tweeted from @sourcejobs.
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And remember, we’re always interested in what you’re working on, even if you don’t have a project to pitch. Send your work to email@example.com so we can include it in our biweekly roundup or on our next Source community call.
Meantime, I’ll be at my desk, with my sign posted.
Editor of Source from 2015-2020