MediaShift covers newspaper developers

Written by Adrian Holovaty on March 7, 2007

Mark Glaser at PBS's MediaShift has written Web Focus Leads Newspapers to Hire Programmers for Editorial Staff, an article about how some (but not many) newspapers have been hiring Web developers. Disclaimer: I was interviewed for the article.

Specifically, the article focuses on the Tacoma (Wash.) News-Tribune, which has hired a programmer to work in its news department. I really like this quote from Aaron Ritchey, the person they hired:

At The News Tribune, I am the programmer. If I were working at a company that hires dozens of programmers, I would be just a programmer. I enjoy the extra responsibility of being the planner, the developer, and the tester.

That, to me, nicely sums up the key advantage of being a developer on a journalism team. Sure, the money isn't as good as a straight-up tech job, and the geek cred is nonexistent. But it's worth it for the chance to be creative and to make a difference in your community. If you're a hacker, would you rather be a cog in the machine or an independent voice?

Comments

Posted by Ryan Pitts on March 7, 2007 at 9:25 p.m.:

That's absolutely one of my favorite things about being a developer inside a newsroom -- I get to work with content that interests me, and I have the freedom to do interesting things with it, all the way from concept to execution. It reminds in some ways of the great parts of working at a small paper -- you pretty much get to do anything and everything you have an interest in. I'd be disappointed if I had to choose just one thing to do here.

Posted by Jess Pearce on March 7, 2007 at 11:14 p.m.:

That was an interesting article, but I noticed that there were no reporters quoted in it. Sure, the executive editor is going to think everything's peachy and wonderful, what lowly reporter is going to tell him otherwise? While I see the wisdom in hiring computer gurus in newsrooms, I think replacing reporters with "social experiments" is only going to end badly, both for the paper and the people.

Posted by jefurii on March 8, 2007 at 1:51 p.m.:

Sure, the money isn't as good as a straight-up tech job, and the geek cred is nonexistent. But it's worth it for the chance to be creative and to make a difference in your community.

This is exactly why I keep my web programming job at a museum. I love the idea of contributing to the museum's community, and to the historical record in general.

It's tough though - museums seem to think programming is something you contract out instead of doing it in-house.

Posted by Jay Small on March 8, 2007 at 4:31 p.m.:

I dunno, dude. Seems to me you built pretty good geek cred coming out of this very background. After all, we now have people out there asking, "Who's your Adrian Holovaty?" :-)

Posted by Adrian on March 8, 2007 at 5:14 p.m.:

Jay: Well, there's journalism geek cred, and there's Web development geek cred. :)

Too many geek groups to keep track of!

Posted by Jay Small on March 9, 2007 at 6:54 a.m.:

Either way, you're a name brand now. No turning back. Guitar geek cred is inevitable.

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