Latest Developers: Engineers and Editors Together in an Innovative Newsroom

“We need to break down barriers between journalists and developers,” says John Crowley (editor-in-chief International Business Times UK). Today journalists have to work more and more with data and visualization. It involves technological skills and basic understanding of data journalism. Developers, artists and programmers have to work in same newsroom with journalists. It asks for cooperation, proper planning and preparation to create big, interactive projects.

Panel discussion was about finding solutions how editors and developers could best work together. Journalists who lead the discussion were Greg Barber (The Washington Post), John Crowley (editor-in-chief International Business Times UK), Mary Hamilton (executive editor audience The Guardian), Marc Lavallee (editor interactive news The New York Times) and Martin Stabe (head of interactive news The Financial Times). Each of them showed best examples from mediums they work at, that followed by an intense discussion.

Working together might not always be easy. Even though both journalists and developers are passionate about producing news, their style of doing that might not match. Hamilton thinks that coding and non coding journalists have so-called language barrier. She gives an example where journalists take deadline very seriously, whereas people who code don’t fully understand that. “Graphic team members are sometimes seen as servants for real journalists. That leads to poor graphics,” says Stabe. He believes that graphic team members should have ownership of their outlet.

“The question is how do we tell best the story so that our audience will understand it and get most of it,” says Hamilton. There are many ways how to report on one issue. It can be told through Twitter, graphics, games or simple text. Because of so many various ways of telling a story great managerial side is needed. Crowley thinks that project manager and strong core of working team are indicators of successful project. Whereas Stabe believes that concrete set of criteria and strong case is crucial.

“What we need to do now is simply bring people together,” stresses Crowley. Understanding each other’s working style and getting to know each other as colleagues is great solution, he believes. It used to be much easier in past, when everyone knew what others were doing. Today journalists don’t know what’s exactly happening in sales, PR, designers and other people’s rooms. “Working sphere has become massive and complex,” Hamilton says.

Discussion ends with a question whether basic programming and data journalism should be thought in schools. “Please, stop making me code,” laughs Hamilton. She believes that while journalists should understand the basics of it, there shouldn’t be any pressure. Others agree that some part of it should be taught, but two separate fields still remain.

By: Anna Udre