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Hacker Chronicles

What happens when j-schools bring journalism and computer science students together in the classroom? Find out from their professors.

By Jacqueline Marino and Jeremy Gilbert

It used to be that calling a journalist a “hack” was considered an insult. Now, tack on “-er” and more than likely the reporter will be flattered. Today tech-savvy journalists are mapping stories, figuring out new ways to share mobile-based news, and TEACHING GLIMPSES
Jeremy Gilbert
Northwestern University
Jacqueline Marino
Kent State University
changing how investigative reporters gather and analyze their information. This expanding digital landscape for news, especially the significance of data and the promise of mobile, means that computer programming is becoming yet another skill to be taught in journalism classes.

The key question is how to teach these skills in the context of journalism. Who should learn the technical skills of a hacker? What skills do journalists need to master? How do we partner those who are tech savvy with those eager to learn reporting? Experiments abound—from computer science/journalism master’s programs to scattered courses in “multimedia programming”—and no one has figured out yet what works best.

As professors at different journalism schools and with varied backgrounds, each of us has taught in classrooms with a mix of computer science and journalism students, who have collaborated in learning how to dig into data in educational environments long dominated by story. Here, we tell how we did it, what we’ve learned so far, and where we’re headed.