The specter of finding a “real person job” can be a frightening thought, especially if you’re going into a constantly evolving industry.
I’m a rising senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and before long I’ll have to turn those ideas into reality.
Aiming to improve my chances at getting a job, I’ve started learning some coding and data skills to supplement my reporting.
Having skills such as data visualization and coding is slowly becoming a necessity in newsrooms. Earlier this year, new organizations such as Vox, FiveThirtyEight and the TheUpshot emerged on the scene and are churning out new forms of journalism.
During my summer in Washington, I’ve been meeting with journalists to get their perspective on the industry, and how journalism students can better adapt themselves to the changing journalism environment.
Here are some of their tips:
Becky Bowers | PolitiFact digital operations manager
Becky Bowers operates the back end of the fact checking news source. Before PolitiFact grew to national prominence, it operated as a small part of the Tampa Bay Times. She said working on smaller projects within a larger organization gives creative people more freedom to experiment and try new things.
She encourages people to seek out communities of people who are willing to help you get over the learning curve. Working on GitHub or with the NICAR listserv are some places to get the coding basics down.
Jeremy Bowers | New York Times interactive news developer
Jeremy Bowers has been coding since he was in college. He found this passion out of a love of solving problems, and during the past several weeks he’s been developing the New York Times’ interactives for the World Cup.
Bowers said it is important to find opportunities in news organizations that allow you to be more than “a cog in the machine.”
It can start out as simply as using a Storify or adding graphs to a story, but adding more elements sets your stories apart from others.
Derek Willis | New York Times The Upshot reporter
Willis covers campaign finance for The Upshot, as well as designing interactives for the Times. Like Bowers, he is a long-time coder.
Willis said journalism students should take classes that will supplement their reporting, such as economics and statistics. He also encourages students to seek out internships that allow for more freedom to experiment with data and other forms of storytelling.