1. Mark the new year;
3. Take a moment to reflect on the strides we took in 2014.
The shout out comes via Josh Stearns, who pulled together a nice piece about the main trends he saw in 2014, including, of course, the development of structured journalism. As he notes, the emphasis seems now to have shifted from new forms of presentation – think Snowfall – to more fundamentally different, data- and digitally-driven types of journalism (think Politifact, Homicide Watch and Connected China).
From sensors to structured journalism, crowdsourcing to podcasting, new modes of journalism that have been emerging over the last decade took huge strides forward this year. Communities of practice grew up around new models of storytelling to formalize norms, grapple with ethical and technical questions and tackle issues of sustainability.
And it’s true: The panel on structured journalism at ONA in Chicago last year – featuring Bill Adair, Laura Amico, Miguel Paz and yours truly – was a huge step forward in terms of putting the core ideas out in public, building a community around them, and as Laura noted during the talk, just coming up with a common vocabulary that facilitates discussion about how to move the concept forward. Just the fact that Josh’s post uses the term is a reflection of that success. But it’s more than that. There is a much bigger group of people who are thinking about other implementations of structured journalism, and there certainly seems to be a lot more excitement about the idea. In his post, Josh cites a host of examples, from the use of card stacks in Vox to Emergent to Ballot Watch to The N-Word that are trying new ways to practice journalism, based on underlying data structures – not quite data journalism, and not exactly data visualizations, but sites that use data structure as a core building block of their journalism. As he notes:
One of the most interesting sessions at the Online News Association conference this year was “From Data to Audience: Structured Journalism and Modern Narratives” in which the panelists explored how the fundamental elements of stories can be collected, organized, presented and reused (by journalists or members of the community) through unique story-driven databases. … This is a form truly born of the web, and the early results are very exciting.
None of this would have been possible without the efforts – and initiative – of Bill, Laura and Chris Amico, who pushed for that, and other panels over the course of 2014. Bill wants us to get together again early this year, and I’m looking forward to what further progress we can make this year.