Ryan Pitts

Census Reporter, OpenNews

Ryan Pitts is a developer and journalist in Spokane, WA. He's the director of network development for OpenNews, a nonprofit organization that helps newsroom developers, designers, and data analysts collaborate on technology and support each other as a community. (OpenNews also publishes this website.) Ryan is a board member and developer at Census Reporter, and was the senior editor for digital media at The Spokesman-Review.

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Ryan’s work on Source


  1. census-shapefile-utils


  1. Five Years, What a Surprise
  2. Training Colleagues on Digital Security? We’ve Got Your Back
  3. Introducing the Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom
  4. How We Made Nu Source
  5. Hello Again
  6. When Bots Get Together: Part 1
  7. Attack of the Helpful Chatbots
  8. Return of the Code Convenings: Elections and Updates
  9. SRCCON: Human-Driven Design
  10. Introducing Source Guides
  11. Well Hello, Census
  12. US Shutdown Scuttles Data
  13. For Journalism: How it Started, Where it’s Going
  14. Spokesman-Review Holiday Lights Map
  15. Source launches Oct. 16

Articles by Ryan

  1. How people used the Scholarships+ program in 2022

    We’ll have more money to give out for professional development next year—here are some ideas on how you might use it!

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    Our Scholarships+ program offers funding to help people pay for events and programs that develop their work as a journalist with data and code. This recap of the programs we helped people take part in in 2022 is part of our commitment to transparency and trust in our work—and we also think it’s a great source of ideas for community members who want to keep building their networks and careers.

  2. Stop the victim narrative, and other tips for covering working-class women

    How to center working-class women’s voices to avoid perpetuating the status quo.

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    Takeaways from a recent event with community leaders and journalists.

  3. What we learned from a year of Exit Interviews

    This series was written by community members who left journalism, but it’s for people who are still in the work

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    OpenNews events and programs have always welcomed honest talk about careers, identity, and our sense of belonging in an industry that often isn’t kind to workers. This series was another way to convene a community-wide conversation about our newsrooms and what it would take to make them better.

  4. The conversations local newsrooms should be having about COVID-19 coverage

    Journalists are fighting confusion, isolation, and exhaustion—in our communities and where we work

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    We spent August and September in conversation with local journalists covering COVID-19, asking what they need most

  5. Tell us what you need to cover COVID-19

    A short survey to help us develop more support for you and your colleagues covering the pandemic

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    For the next several months, OpenNews and Big Local News will work with local journalists to develop resources their newsrooms can use to better cover COVID-19. What should that support look like? We don’t know yet! But you can help us figure it out.

  6. Buddying up with the news-nerd community

    Here are a few places to ask for help that gets you past roadblocks in your work

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    Where do you turn with a question that’s stopping your data project in its tracks? If you don’t have a news-nerd colleague nearby, there’s a whole community out there happy to help. Here are three ways you can tap into networks of support, both right now and next week.

  7. Tell Us Who You’re Grateful For, and Thank a Peer Who Made the Year Better

    Send some gratitude and appreciation to the colleagues and peers who’ve supported you in 2019.

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    Express your gratitude to the peers who’ve helped you make it through the year known as 2019.

  8. Q&A with Politico: How We Built Our Election Slackchat

    We made an open-source tool to bring great banter to the masses, on a shoestring

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    Our new open-source Slackchat tool is ready for everyone.

  9. Introducing the Field Guide to Security Training in the Newsroom

    A collaboratively written guide that helps trainers train their colleagues

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    A practical, collaboratively written guide that everyone in newsrooms can use.

  10. No Humans Were Harmed in the Making of These Docs

    How we ran a super-productive two-day doc sprint—and how you can, too

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    A human-friendly doc sprint produced The Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom.

  11. Training Colleagues on Digital Security? We’ve Got Your Back

    What we made at our first-ever OpenNews security convening, in partnership with Buzzfeed Open Lab

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    Security has felt like a topic we ought to address for a while now, and we were thrilled to partner with BuzzFeed Open Lab this month on a convening designed to improve security knowledge and practice in newsrooms everywhere.culture and technology, so we hope you’ll help us keep this guide up to date.

  12. Introducing the Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom

    A guidebook for people who care about journalism and open source

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    Today we’re thrilled to announce the first release of our community-built guidebook, The Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom.

  13. How We Made Nu Source

    Our redesign evolved slowly and came together quickly, with a small team

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    How our small team redesigned Source, with a design refresh and a new navigation and structure that matches the way we publish now.

  14. When Bots Get Together: Part 2

    Our code convening in Austin brought together nine teams working on bots and automation. Here’s what they made.

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    Here’s the second half of our report-back from Austin’s code convening, introducing five more bot-centered open source projects from our participants.

  15. When Bots Get Together: Part 1

    Our code convening in Austin brought together nine teams working on bots and automation. Here’s what they made.

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    Code convenings have been regular events on the OpenNews calendar for a little more than two years now, each of them bringing a small group of designers and developers together to work on projects that fit a particular theme. Given a chance to step away from normal routines and daily deadlines, participants spend a couple days writing code and documentation before releasing fresh open-source projects and updates into the journalism community. The Austin event earlier this month definitely was our largest so far, with nine projects. It was a fantastic mix of people, with developers and designers from all sizes of news organizations, and fields like education, finance, and civic tech. Here’s what everyone is working on.

  16. Just One Thing: A Year in Review, Part 3

    Appreciation of usefulness and bar-raising at the end of a long, complicated year

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    As we did last year, we’ve asked a couple of dozen people from all around the news-nerd community to tell us about one thing—article, feature, app, tool, or something else entirely—that they loved in 2015. This week, we’re publishing their responses, from interactives to project management software. We hope you find here at least one thing that eases your work, inspires new angles on your stories, and helps carry you through to 2016.

  17. 2012 in Review: Ryan Pitts

    Utilifonts, development tools, beautiful apps, and a philosophy of cooking

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    Our own Ryan Pitts on the tools that helped him do better work and the projects and sites that inspired him in 2012.

  18. Spokesman-Review Holiday Lights Map

    Our own Ryan Pitts talks about his team rebuilding a map app

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    Ryan Pitts breaks down the recipe for a holiday lights map app, with special nods to artisanal admin interfaces and full-screen BoyerMaps.

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