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The ProPublica Nerd Blog

The ProPublica Pair Programming Project

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The News Apps Desk at ProPublica (Dan Nguyen/ ProPublica)

Come code with us! The ProPublica Pair Programming Project -- or P5 -- opens the ProPublica News Apps desk to newsroom coders who want to work on a ProPublica project, or to finish a project of their own, from the ProPublica offices in New York. P5 is made possible by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Maybe you’re the only coder in your newsroom, or you’re the best coder on your graphics desk. Maybe you’re a javascript hacker who’s been trying to finish a crime map for your local site and sitting with other news coders will help you finish it. Maybe you’re a coder who’s never worked in news but has entered an Open Data contest or two and is looking to see what newsroom coding is all about.

A news app is a web-based interactive database that tells a journalistic story using software instead of words and pictures. It’s code and it’s journalism — both at once, and by the same people. News apps are an exciting, emerging discipline within journalism.

Each P5 participant will work in the New York offices of ProPublica for 2-4 days, depending on the scope of the project they’re working on.

Goal: Growing the Field

P5 will provide mentorship, advice, and an environment where good work can actually happen.

The mission of this project is to increase the number of people doing this kind of work, and to encourage newsrooms to see this as work to be fostered. We hope to establish that this is a basic journalistic function and not a faddish, high-tech gizmo, by exposing talented journalists to a fully functioning department.

This is a brand new idea for ProPublica. We admit we don’t have all the answers so if you’re awesome but some of this doesn’t quite describe you, apply anyway. However, this really isn’t and can’t be a program that will teach non-developers how to code. You’ll need the skills to hack with us and to go back to your newsroom ready to take it the rest of the way to the finish line.

More Details

We’re best at Ruby, Rails, and JavaScript. But if you code in some other language, you should still apply.

P5 is open to people from anywhere. However: We can’t sponsor a visa for you, and you’ll need to have a firm grasp on English in order to communicate easily with us.

We'll have a Mac with web development tools and the Photoshop suite available for your use, but if you've got a complex setup, it's probably smart for you to bring your own laptop.

Funding Your Trip

We expect newsrooms to shoulder the cost of paying you while you’re here, and for paying for travel and lodging. However, the economic realities are what they are, so there is a small budget for covering some (but not everyone's) travel costs. Mention in your application if you need such assistance.

How to Apply

P5 is monthly, and deadlines are rolling. Because we can only host one person at a time, it's a competitive program. Our panel of judges includes ProPublica staff, NYU Professor Clay Shirky and Mozilla/OpenNews Chief Dan Sinker.

To apply, fill out this form. Here’s the info we need:

  • About You: A CV or a Resume. If you’ve got clips, send us your single best one.
  • Your URLs: This is the most important part. Send us URLs to your best work.
  • Your GitHub username: You’ve been releasing things open source, right?
  • If you want to work on a specific project here, send us details: What are you up to? Send us screenshots, or scans of the drawing you made on a napkin. What data do you have? What data can you get? If there’s reporting and data gathering to be done for this you’re gonna need to do it before you get here. Nobody wants to fly to New York only to clean data for two days. If you don’t have a project but want to pair program on one of ours, that's great too! Just tell us that.
  • Proof that your supervisor approves of your participation in the program. A signed note will suffice.

Questions? Contact me at scott@propublica.org.

Kudos for a great idea! So often creative flares are sparked by breaking out of the day-to-day routine. Good luck with the project!

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