Hacks and hackers

Graduate Student, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

The intersection of journalism and technology is really at the heart of ONA. It makes sense, then, that somewhere among the panel discussions on real-time reporting, content sharing and the latest tech trends, there’d be at least one meet-up — not held in the hotel bar — devoted to introducing journalists to developers.

It’s Hacks/Hackers/Hackathon, a low-pressure contest to bring ideas to fruition through the collaboration of journalists and technology developers.

Thursday, the contest organizers Beth Davis (journalist/designer/developer), Burt Herman (CEO of Storify) and Greg Linch (news innovation manager at Publish2) hosted the initial session for people to pitch their ideas and hopefully partner with some like-minded, differently skilled collaborators. The groups that formed — there looked to be about three or four by the end of the session — have until tomorrow to flesh out their plan before presenting it to the judges. The winning idea takes home a cash prize.

Hacks/Hackers/Hackathon from Online News Association on Vimeo.

Just a year old, Hacks/Hackers has grown from an after-work meet-up in San Francisco organized by Herman, a journalist, as a way to talk through some of the angst, worry and confusion a lot of journalists feel about the future of media. At the same time, Aron Pilhofer of The New York Times and Rich Gordon from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, were musing a similar idea.

Both, interestingly, settled on the slightly tongue-in-cheek name “Hacks and Hackers.”

“Really, the way to get to the future is by bringing together technology and media,” Herman said. “More and more, they’re totally tied together.”

There are now about 2,000 members in 11 official chapters throughout the U.S., Canada and England. One of the most active is in New York, notes journalist and popular blogger Jennifer 8. Lee.

She attributes the interest and buzz it to a larger trend called “DIY empires.”

Jennifer 8. Lee on Hacks/Hackers and DIY Empires from Online News Association on Vimeo.

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