“If you are a journalist, what would be the best present from programmers and developers that Santa Claus could leave under your Christmas tree?
And correspondingly, if you are a programmer or developer, what would the best present from journalism that Father Christmas could deliver down your chimney?”
The relationship between journalists and developers is one of increasing necessity, and something that I’ve experienced first hand. I’ve also acted as a sort of intermediary between the two parties, and worked with developers on some fantastic projects. I find it exciting that these two fields are colliding, and the results of these collaborations are helping to push the media industry towards a sustainable future. Due to my slightly mixed position, and having sat on both sides of the table, I thought I’d take a step back and look at requests for a more varied and personal wishlist.
1. More collaboration.
When I went to a student developer conference last month, I was one of only a few journalists. The whole conference centered around making data accessible; something that we as journalists should find very relevant. I wish journalists would show more of an interest in developing new technology, and come forward more often with their own ideas in the hope of collaboration.
Equally, I’ve been appealing for months for a computer science student to help develop aspects of my student newspaper online. It’s not just boring html/css coding- I’d want a developer to come and do their own thing, bring and develop their own ideas. I believe it to be a massively rewarding role, and we’ve achieved some great things in the past (Nouse developers created a WordPress live blog plugin, for example) but the interest just seems to have disappeared.
2a. Developers: Teach, don’t just do.
So much more can be achieved if a developer teaches a journalist as they work together. It’s so interesting to see how things work, and generally journos are eager to learn. Explanation can and save time for everyone too.
2b. Journalists: Ask, don’t tell.
The above point applies to journalists as well, in a way. Ask questions and try and figure out what’s going on. Also, ask the developer’s opinions, rather than just saying what you want and expecting it to happen. It all helps smooth the relationship and improve collaboration.
3. A designer
Journalists and developers can always use a designer, the third person present at this festive gathering, and one that should be essential. Send them an invite.
I’ve played the role of designer many times, and think it’s becoming increasingly important as journalism and technology come together. Reader experience and presentation is more important than ever. You can have the best journalism idea and brilliant development execution, but without a great experience for the end user, you’re not going anywhere. User experience should be the next big thing in journalism and development. Don’t leave the designer out in the snow.
What’s going on your Christmas wishlist? What would you ask developers, programmers, and Father Christmas for?
Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) us your list, and we’ll fire it off to the pole and post it on the blog, or you can tweet us @wannabehacks.