Recently at AJR

I’ve been working on several large trend and enterprise stories on innovation in the media industry at American Journalism Review.

My latest piece is a classic roundup of the tech tools journalism students across the country are using to drive newsroom innovation. I spoke to about 20 students, from California to New York, and culled it down to the most interesting.

“It’s absolutely frustrating to see newsrooms so backwards with technology, just because you can see how much it would help their journalism and their storytelling,” said Lucke, 19.

Undaunted, Lucke is now using her journalism education and tech background to develop a mobile app of her own — “a Pandora station” for travelers that gives social-based recommendations for concerts and other activities.

The piece was picked up in morning news roundups from Romenesko, Re/code, Arts & Letters Daily and more.

Speaking of which. Another piece I wrote for AJR, “How Journalism Professors Used Legos to Teach Data Visualization,” also made its way into Romenesko‘s and Editor & Publisher‘s roundups.

“I think the mistake I made last time was not teaching enough mental tools. So when we got to using software, there were some gaps and students struggled,” Waite told AJR.

When working with data, sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. And it doesn’t get any simpler than Lego blocks.

Several weeks ago, my AJR editors introduced me to the editorial team at D.C. startup Law Street Media. Within a few days, I had a piece on the Bill O’Reilly debacle published there.

For years, O’Reilly has backed up his reporting to viewers, readers, and other journalists with claims of reporting for CBS in active war zones in Argentina’s Falkland Islands, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland.

But reporters and producers from CBS News told Mother Jones that no American correspondent reached the Falklands. Instead, they said, O’Reilly was in Buenos Aires, over a thousand miles from combat.

These days

Off the top of my head, the best content I’ve had a hand in recently:

Using Reddit for news

Reddit for News: A lecture from Sean Mussenden, who leads the Capital News Service interactive newsroom.

I’ve been trying to use Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit productively for a while now. It started with promoting stories, then hunting for story sources, especially when covering global news stories.

I’m now actively using social media to find stories that still are bubbling up. I often hunt for Coming of Faith story ideas on Tumblr, and Reddit and Twitter are amazing places to find inspiration for pitches on the media beat.

First forays into audio

I’m taking a multimedia skills course this semester, which has kind of waylaid my data journalism training for a bit. We’re beginning with audio storytelling, and I’ve found it surprisingly enjoyable, amateurish as my attempts may be. Here’s my latest effort: an audio postcard, layered and cleaned with Adobe Audition.

Radio producer Jennifer Deer explains the idea behind the project:

The audio postcard is a short format, but a meaty one. Through an elegant layering of voices and ambient and natural sound, the postcard allows audio documentary to do what it does best: place the listener smack in the middle of the sights, sounds, smells, and mood of a place or an event.

I’m a newbie with audio –– which won’t come as a shock, if you’ve seen my posts here –– and have never used Audition before. Here’s the last piece I produced in the course’s intro audio sequence:

And here’s my first attempt at a produced piece:

Read more →

Basic leaflet map

My Javascript skills are minimal right now, but I’m trying to jump right in with basic maps. Leaflet, an interactive mapping library, looked like a good place to start. I mapped five farmers’ markets located around the Baltimore County area. I originally created the map markers and pop-ups in the JS file, but following Andy Maloney’s example, I made a separate JSON mini-database and then looped through the array via the JS.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 12.14.23 PM

See my basic map here.

To follow up later:

  • Replace OSM tiles with the infinitely better looking Mapbox tiles
  • Add fonts for different browsers via @font-face CSS
  • Add favicon and better styling to the site
  • Expand data to the county, rather than just Towson
  • Figure out if it’s possible to embed in WordPress. I’ve instead uploaded the files to a separate subdomain.

This last point I do need some help with, so if you happen to see this post and you know how to make this magic happen, let me know.

Resources used:

I’ve also started reading Malcolm Maclean’s book “Leaflet Tips & Tricks.” It’s wonderfully suited for beginners, even if every example comes with a disclaimer that the code might be egregiously messy and ‘wrong.’

Next up is using the Mapbox library.

Tableau map + Google Maps embed

Questions or suggestions? Comment or email me.

Much To-Do About Nothing

Feel free to bug me with a comment or a tweet if you think I’m prioritizing the wrong skills or if you’d like to demand evidence of progress on a listing.


  • Javascript: Codecademy + CMSC121
  • jQuery
  • Ruby
  • Python
  • Scraping with Ruby/Python


Data Viz

  • Datawrapper
  • Tableau
  • D3.js
  • C3.js

Data cleaning

  • OpenRefine 


  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop


  • Get a Soundcloud
  • Get a Vimeo
  • Understand how to use a DSLR
  • Adobe Audition
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Final Cut Pro