2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellows to work in newsrooms exploring tech solutions to problems facing journalism

2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellows. Credit: Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.

Erika Owens is the program manager for Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.

The Knight-Mozilla Fellowship places creative technologists in newsrooms to work on open-source tools and support reporting that strengthens the Web and changes people’s lives. The fellowships are part of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, supported by Knight Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation. Knight-Mozilla Fellows spend 10 months working with newsroom technology teams to write open-source code, analyze and visualize data, and explore tough problems facing journalism.

The 2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellows are the fifth cohort in the program and they join over two dozen alumni fellows. In 2016, the fellows will be hosted by the Los Angeles Times Data Desk, NPR, Vox Media, Frontline, Correct!v, and The Coral Project (a collaboration of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Mozilla).

Applicants to the fellowship came from all over the world, and from many different fields: 560 people interested in working in journalism. They heard about the fellowship from a variety of sources, including many of OpenNews’ own programs such as its conference SRCCON, its website Source, and outreach at code convenings and OpenNews-sponsored events.

Through an extensive selection process, OpenNews identified fellows who were doing amazing work–analyzing complex data, organizing community events in Berlin and Buenos Aires, testing new methods of storytelling–and invited them to join the community of fellows. As that community grows, now at 33 fellows, their work and influence continues to expand. “The fellowship helped me realize my role as a bridge builder is just as important as my role as a tool maker,” according to one former fellow.

“Over the course of five years, we’ve seen the fellowship evolve from being an innovation engine to being a leadership engine that brings diverse perspectives and ideas into newsrooms,” says Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Director Dan Sinker. “Our fellows are now seen as leaders in the journalism-tech community in a way that has evolved as their contributions to that community have deepened. It’s that kind of deep, reciprocal relationship that has been so rewarding to see grow over five years of this program.”

“The Knight-Mozilla Fellowship continues to support the transformation of journalism in the digital age,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “It has established a track record for developing the next generation of newsroom leaders, while driving digital adoption, diversity and best practices inside newsrooms. We are excited to see what this next cohort of fellows will bring.”

We’re proud to announce our 2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellows.

Nicky Case – Frontline

Nicky Case plays with play. They make interactive explanations, to help people understand the world, and interactive stories, to help people understand themselves. Last year, Nicky made Coming Out Simulator, an autobiographical interactive story about their experience coming out as queer. It was nominated for Best Narrative at the 2015 Independent Games Festival. After that, they made a few interactives to explain math, psychology, and sociology. Most notably, they collaborated with Vi Hart to make Parable of the Polygons, a playable blog post about bias and diversity. Nicky still thinks writing about oneself in the third person is really weird. They’ll join the team at Frontline. Follow Nicky on Twitter @ncasenmare.

Nicky Case

Sandhya Kambhampati – Correct!v

Sandhya Kambhampati is a data journalist who is passionate about open records, data literacy and statistics. At The Chronicle of Higher Education, she analyzes data and reports on college athletics, college presidential pay, and student loans. She’s interested in records retention policies and finding new ways for newsrooms to share their institutional knowledge with others. In her spare time, Sandhya enjoys traveling, reading and trivia. She’s especially excited to learn German and about the Freedom of Information laws throughout Europe while working with the journalists at Correct!v. Follow Sandhya on Twitter at @sandhya__k.

Sandhya Kambhampati

Pietro Passarelli- Vox

Pietro Passarelli is a software developer and documentary filmmaker. He is passionate about projects that sit at the intersection between software development and video production, both in terms of the growing trend of interactive documentaries but also as tools for making video production and post-production easier, such as autoEdit. While working in broadcast documentaries for BBC and C4 Pietro noticed the convergence of video production and software development and did an MSc in Computer Science at UCL. Recently, he worked as newsroom developer at the Times & Sunday Times where he developed quickQuote an open-source project to make it easier and faster for journalists to identify and create an interactive video quote. Pietro will join the team at Vox Media. Follow Pietro on Twitter at @pietropassarell.

Pietro Passarelli

Lisa Charlotte Rost – NPR

Lisa Charlotte Rost is a designer who loves numbers, systems, and overviews. She wants to help the world to make sense of itself—to destroy false belief systems and to help people ask the most important questions—by using data visualization and data journalism. Lisa has worked for newsrooms like Bloomberg Businessweek, SPIEGEL, and ZEIT Online. She has taught data visualization at several German universities and organizes the Data Vis Meetup in Berlin. Lisa will be a fellow with the NPR Visuals team in Washington, DC, where she will learn how to make people care. Follow Lisa on Twitter at @lisacrost.

Lisa Charlotte Rost

Martin Shelton – The Coral Project

Martin Shelton is a user researcher and data analyst interested in online privacy and security for at-risk users. His research focuses on the privacy habits of users in online communities, as well as journalists and activists. He is completing his PhD at UC Irvine’s Department of Informatics, where he studies how investigative journalists manage their information security. During his PhD, he worked as an intern conducting UX research and data analytics with Twitter, the Pew Research Center, and Google. Martin will be a fellow at the Coral Project, a collaboration between the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. Follow Martin on Twitter at @mshelton.

Martin Shelton

Dan Iair Zajdband – The Coral Project

Dan Zajdband is a software developer passionate about real-time technologies, open-source projects, and open journalism. He contributes to a wide diversity of open source projects including both tooling and end-user software. He helps build community around web development and journalism by participating in and organizing groups like BAFrontend and Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires. Dan will be a fellow at the Coral Project, creating open-source tools and resources for publishers around the world. Follow Dan on Twitter at @impronunciable.

Dan Iair Zajdband

Christine Zhang – Los Angeles Times

Christine Zhang is a data geek with a passion to find meaning in numbers. She believes that good data journalism can take us from “more-informed” to “better-informed.” Her aim? To tell meaningful news stories with data, and to use open data and open-source tools to empower her readers to ask their own questions. Christine currently tells data-driven stories about the global economy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC and has previously done so in roles at Deutsche Bank and Infosys. Christine will be joining the team of news nerds on the LA Times Data Desk in 2016. Follow Christine on Twitter at @christinezhang.

Christine Zhang