Phillip Smith

MoJo goes to NewsCamp: A report back from #NICAR11

I woke this morning having just experienced the first eight-hour sleep that I've had since last Wednesday. You see, I'm fresh back from Investigative Reporters & Editors Computer-Assisted Reporting conference and -- as un-sexy as the name of the event sounds -- I can tell you first hand that sleep is not a priority for attendees.

I was there with my "MoJo" hat on, and the thirty-second summary is:

  • 1 twelve-hour travel adventure to get to Raleigh, NC
  • 3 exhausting & informative days of conference sessions & one-on-one conversations with presenters & attendees
  • 10 video interviews
  • 30 pages of handwritten notes
  • 40+ conversations about the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership
  • And, last but not least, only one foot-in-mouth moment (sadly, in front of the venerable Aron Pilhofer - oops!)

On route back from the event, I was corresponding with an activist-journalist friend and she asked "What exactly is 'computer-assisted reporting' anyway?" I'm hoping that this three-minute video summary (please excuse my amateur video editing skills) might provide a sense of what the event was all about (even though it does a lousy job of answering that specific question). You can watch the video below in all modern browsers, or check it out on YouTube if you're using IE):

Featured in this video are:

More than anything else, this event galvanized a lot of my thinking about the long-term potential for the Knight-Mozilla partnership, which I look forward to unpacking over the coming days. It also served to reinforce the theory of change that we're working with, i.e.: open innovation challenges & fellows embedded in news organizations. It has been rare that I've left a three-day conference with more tangible outcomes than that. Kudos to you, #NICAR11.

So, just to wrap things up, I want to offer a big, sincere, "thank you" to all of the people mentioned above and listed below. Each of these generous, wise, souls made time to ask about Knight-Mozilla partnership and to provide valuable input on the initiative; from a stolen moment between sessions to a shared meal, these folks really gave of their time to support Mozilla's foray into the world of journalism. 

No doubt I've left a few people's names off this list, so I apologize in advance for any errors or omissions (feel free to report them).

Once again, thanks everyone.

P.S. Stay tuned for a video from the all-night "hack-a-thon," featuring Andy Boyle, Mike Corey, and Derek Willis.


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.