We’re going to go ahead and get started.
We’re going to start thinking about getting started. It’s almost 4:30.
Please don’t go.
But please stay in the room. This is where the fun is. It’s okay if you stay standing. That’s the plan, anyway.
All right. I think we’re going to get started. Hi, everybody. I’m Scott. I work at ProPublica.
And I’m Brian. I’m at the New York Times.
And we’ve got questions and hopefully—and I suspect you have questions, too. So we’re going to talk a little bit about this session so Brian and I, and a bunch of people in this room including the folks from OpenNews, and the folks from the Online News Association, some folks that have yet to be revealed are working on a survey, hopefully one of the first surveys of its kind, trying to get a census of whatever we call the community that we’re in, the sort of news nerds of people who do code for news, who build products, who are coder, designers, coder-developers, coder-editors, designer-reporters, all of these sort of hybrid roles that are new to the newsrooms in the last sort of 15 years and we want to get a sense of who we are, how many of us there are, whether a we do, how we do it, and other questions that I hope to get to hopefully today. So I’m going to talk a little bit about how today’s session is going to go. The intro is what I’m doing right now. So number one is half checked off. And then we’re going to talk a little bit about who everybody here is and I think we’re going to get people standing and maybe, moving around in clusters to try to figure out who we are, and what kind of subcultures and what kinds of subcommunities we have. We’re going to talk a little bit about the newsrooms or the not-newsrooms in which we work, and then we’re going to do something that I’m 98% sure will work, which is we’re going to try to solicit people’s questions, what kinds of questions might unto answered in a national survey of this community? And then finally we’re going to actually try to test those questions and see if we can get people to see if they can answer them in a sufficient way, and therefore, we think there are kind of strong questions, ones that would survive ones in a big, national poll kind of online survey.
So just to set the stage a little bit of again, why we’re doing this. Just like, personal example for me. I used to be in the newsroom. Two years ago, I left and now I’m doing product development. I kind of have, like, no idea how many people like me are out there. This is just taken from the etherpad of what people said they did from Apple from this conference. We have people all over the map, dataviz, development, storytelling, systems. and as far as you know, we have individual connections to each other, but there’s no sense of what is this community? What are the organizations that we belong to? What are the support structures? How do we find more people like us? How do those people get jobs, all the questions that we get all the time, like how do I get a job? So Scott and I have been talking about this, we got a lot of ideas from O&A, and OpenNews. We’re hoping to think about how to help our organizations to grow. Basically what does the survey put out, and what are the questions that we want to ask so that we can figure out who we are. So we’re going to do that.
Yes, we’re going to do that. Okay. Please, stand up if you are not already standing up. We’re going to ask you to move around the room. So grab your cohesive, grab your bags, grab any of your valuables, grab any of your service items and give it to your flight attendant. So we originally had a plan to move everybody in into corners of the room. But here in the McNamara center we’re actually in some non-geometry space with water hazards. But this is actually pretty good because whatever kind of rhombus there is, actually gives us space for another answer. So we’re going to put up—so Brian’s going to do this because I have no sense of direction, in which corner is the letter.
So we’re going to ask questions, there’s going to be five categories. We’re going to ask you to try to go into each of these categories. So A is over here by this wooden thing. B is not in the water hazard but just shy of the water hazard.
C is actually on this side. That’s where it’s all confusing is over by the food. D in the middle, E to the left. Everybody got it? A, B, C, D, E.
So we’re going to show two questions and we’re going to break for—we’re going to have a discussion but the questions include multiple choice answers as surveys need to. We are sort of thoughtful about what we should do if you are not subscribed by these. And I think –
I had one quick we know before we start. I don’t see any red bands. We have an aerial photographer up there who’s going to take a photo. So unless anybody objects, we’re going to take a high-def photo.
We are going to take a photo so we can later sort of go and see how well these questions did. So if these questions do not describe you at all—come up to the stage because you’re actually particularly interesting to us. So come up to the stage if these questions do not describe you at all.
So go to the first one.
So the first one is: Who are you? And A is coder. A is here.
That’s all of them!
It’s okay. Just wait. Just wait.
Right, if you are multiples of these, stand in between the positions. If you are a coder, you’re sitting and coding all day, you go into as far into A as possible. If you ever a product person, go in between, or stand as close as you can to the right place.
This is why doing a survey is hard.
So Ivan Tower, we know about you. University professors… and students all here, please. Tony DeBarras (phonetic) is a product person. So we have product persons over here. No other product people? You’re in the middle of what? Really? You’re all these things? E, D, and E, Stacy is B, D, and E. Interesting. You should be keeping notes. I’m holding up money.
Who’s firmly in a group that they’re angry that they’re in that group?
So you’re also, what are you?
I’m a manager –
So you’re all of them. We have the dead center of people… fascinating. Fascinating. A, B, and E. And so we’ve got a cluster of A, B, and E’s. Stacy’s all of them. I’ve got the university folks over here. Okay, this is good. Lindsey are we getting shots?
I think over in the corner, no. That’s okay.
People need to scoot into the corners.
Stricter corners. So move closer to the corners.
Is that because you guys are hybrids? You just don’t want to get by the food.
There are a lot of A, C, Ds.
A, B, and C?
A, C, and D, this triangle over here.
A, C, D. Coder, designer, reporter, a lot of ProPublicans over here. But you’re also an academic, right? But that’s not even one of the things so that really stinks. And you’re dead in the middle? You’re literally all of the things? That’s fantastic. All right. So I’m seeing that, “Check all that apply” I think is going to be.
So this question clearly doesn’t work.
Wait, and you’re all folks?
We’re committing to code.
Over here, university folks. Okay, it’s a little bit of everything.
So you need to be between A and B, but a little bit closer to E.
Ted needs to be closer to A and B, but—or this is awesome, so this precision clearly points him to one of these categories.
Maybe an easier one?
All right. Let’s try and do this.
Okay. Let’s see if this y’all angry or happy with this. What kind of organization –
Yes, this is about your organization. Where do you work. If you don’t work in any of these kinds of organizations, stand on the stage and we finally have universities now. I can’t read maps upside down so… Max is a contract Open source employee. Wow, web and mobile, look at that.
Tiff, you work in the New York Times.
All right. I gotta change my battery.
Half, mother fuckers! Half!
People in the web. Washington Post here and the Times.
They’re in the center!
This is not how you see yourself within your organization.
What’s the end goal?
I can’t read maps upside down.
I see IR. I see IR.
Print is over there.
So wait, so this is web, so clearly, this is not web.
I never felt closer to academics.
[ Laughter ]
Oh, wow. Wow okay. All right, Lindsey, you got some shots?
I can’t hear you. Just thumbs up.
All right. All right. That’s Lindsey, everybody. Hi, Lindsey. Hi, Lindsey.
So I think this was a slightly more successful question. People could answer that. I’ll make a note on that. So now, we’re going to do and a little bit different. So one of the important things that we have to figure out, we had a conversation with a very prestigious polling firm that told us how polls work which is something that Brian and I didn’t know.
We thought we would have this entire survey done by SRCCON.
Our palabra was to have it done by SRCCON and the people didn’t even laugh at us. So they said, well, really, the most important thing to do is to—what are the five things that you want to know? Not five questions. What are the five things that you want to know about the community? It could be what do we all eat for breakfast? It could be how do we all code. Do they have standing desks? Are we on the edit side, are we on the IT side? Whatever you need to know about this community. So at each desk our sticky notes and at each desk there are pens, but some of them don’t have them. I assume that you all brought pens. So what we’re going to do, take a sticky note and write one thing that you want to know. And then you’re going to come and stick it to this wooden board. We have proctors. Serious ontologists who are going to take each one and cluster them where there are, in fact duplicate type questions. And I may join one of these. But Cody Pitts and Erika Owens are going to be ontologists and I may dabble in ontology.
More than one question is also.
Up to five questions.
But one per person, though.
What do you want to know about the community. What do we all eat for breakfast? Average pay? All right. So what’s up? Yuri wants to know what’s up. how long do you work? Do you work every day? That’s a good question. How big is your team? These are great questions. Don’t be shy about asking questions others have asked. That’s sort of the point. Red. Good. Something about smoking? Show you smoke? Well, C, cluster yours around someone else and if no one has, stick it somewhere else. How often do you eat? Edible API? There’s discussion. Good to see. I see wheels turning. Very smart people. Where are my ontologists? Here you are. Cody. What does that team need? What is the workflow? I’m going to call a “what’s up” on that same question. Python language, Ruby. Open source, excellent. Are there requirements for your job? Excellent. Excellent question.
Oh, excellent. Sure. We’re going to put… what’s up—and next to hate everyone, that’s a cluster. Do you have a budget? Where’s Cody? Do we have a spot for does the team have an budget? Money? Money? Job descriptions, do people really care? How often do you tweet? I think how often do you tweet has crossover with are you happy? Do you hate everyone? Are you having an identity crisis…? It says more psychology than my—I only took two years of psychology. Oh… how long has your job description existed? That’s great. We’ve got some time so people… Erik what did you ask? Did you ask a question?
I asked a question.
Sure. Sure. My witty banter is being transcribed. Saved forever on the Internet. Immutable. How do you shrink print successfully and hire more workers? Oh, is that a multiple choice question? Excellent. Why aren’t there more remote positions? Remote positions… why isn’t there more remote positions. What’s the range of salary? We’ve got a lot of salary questions.
All right. Ready? There’s plenty of time. Plenty of time. Anybody have any more questions? Any more really thoughtful reporters? Another 30 seconds. How’s our clustering going? We’re going to cluster that over with “what’s up.” We should ask that one. Have you no at long last…
All right. You guys ready to move around a little more?
Scott, you wanna pick one off of there?
All right. You ready? So…
So why don’t we start with an easy yes/no.
This is like voting in parliament. You’re going to sort of stand where your answer is. So let’s pick a couple of example questions and see if we can kind of improvise the answers. Let’s start with—this might be a touchy one. Let me make sure it’s okay with Brian.
“How much do you make?”
The question is: Do you get enough support from your organization/your newsroom? Do you get enough support from your newsroom and if you work for me, the answer is, “Yes.” So the answer is no. If you work for me, just stand right there. If the answer is yes, stand by the water, if the answer is no, stand by the wall that is leaning. And if you’re somewhere in between, stand somewhere in between. The exercise is to figure out how easy these questions are. How sort of not fuzzy these questions are. How sharp these questions are. So OpenNews is in some kind of crisis.
So there is—there’s a little bit of a self-selection bias because you’re at a conference and your company. But we’ve got some people in the middle. OpenNews seems to be some kind of a nightmare workplace. [ Laughter ]
Which one’s yes again?
This is the no?
Yeah, no, no one really knows.
I thought we were in the no.
Erika, everyone’s here on the expense account. You got enough support to—did you type it in. You were supposed to type it in?
No. I didn’t.
I like that question. That was a good question. We’ll get another. Brian, do you wanna pick one?
One that’s on there a couple of times. Do you work remotely, or do members of your team work remotely,.
Did anybody work remotely? Yes, over by the water, and no over by the wall.
Yes, physically. Do you or anybody on your team work remotely. So if your team is always in the office and never remote, you are next to the water. If your team is very flexible about where you are, you may be a remote organization, you are over by the leaning tower of victims.
If you are working remotely from the conference, it doesn’t count.
This is the remote side, right?
I see ProPublica is going, “Where’s Sisi?” they’re doing—not what they say to you. But if you work remotely or if your team works remotely. Wait, Dan has a question.
How do you interpret this question?
Yeah, Si as I, you’re on the remote side. This is remote. This is everyone works out of the office.
That was everyone works out of the office.
Always—not always in the office, which is also, has very potential to be unhealthy.
I screwed up. I told you I can’t read maps upside down.
You are –
Your team –
Or the team work remotely. If you have a boss who says that he doesn’t like you working remotely, you’re over there. All right.
My old job, I would be over there.
That’s a pretty sharp set of answers.
Well, I’m curious, the people who answered this question, are you satisfied with the answer?
How do you want to—where do we stand?
Should we do pay?
Do you have a catapult?
Who the fuck has a catapult?
Best job, wait to go!
Why do you have a catapult?
Why? Why do you not?
Sometimes you need to throw things across the office.
I was going to say is it a catapult or is it a slingshot? Let’s be honest.
Where can I get a catapult?
All right. Let’s ask this one. I think this is a decent one. So, uh, okay. If anyone’s uncomfortable answering this, just like give me the finger and I’ll cancel it. Okay, so the question is: Are you a full-time employee or, on this, so full-time employee is at the water.
It’s okay. I can…
Full-time employees over by the water. And a freelancer, all the way against the wood. And if you’re sort of a part-time employee or if you’re a full-time contractor, somewhere in the middle. Freelance. We have freelance on this side. We got the full-time employees over here. And this is the middle.
I guess if you’re an intern or a fellow or something, I guess somewhere in the middle. So I guess full-time employee would also mean an indefinite employee, I guess it would be said. So somewhere in the middle? You’re both? Oh, well, that’s great.
I’m just following the crowd, I have no idea.
If you’re a WordPress person!
We have five corners.
People who don’t know.
Wait, Yuri, what is Yuri. I can’t read maps upside down. You’re a non-coder?
No one’s just Ruby.
Yeah, a little Python.
Sisi, like, what are you doing?
That’s good. Wait, what are you guys?
Oh, languages are tools. That’s very tool. But we like some tools better than other tools.
Not these tools.
Not these tools. Haha, I like that one.
Isn’t that Ruby?
I like that.
All right. Are we ready for the next one?
Brian has one.
Are you self-taught?
What does that even mean?
Are you what?
Did you go to college for what you are currently doing? So these people over here…
Just in coding.
People over here, majored in college in the work that they currently do. So if you were a journalism major and you do journalism as a coder, you belong on this side because you learned journalism on there.
I studied –
Do you want us to be over there?
If you are majoring…
That’s too boring. It has to know a continuum.
Hold on. He keeps doing that. I can’t see that. So where you are standing is people who went to college for what they currently do.
There is not a degree program in journalism bots. It ain’t a thing!
Wait, so what’s in here?
I studied journalism, I did not study software development.
That’s fine. If you went to college for what you currently do, you come to the water.
What if you have other degrees?
If you are anything. If you’re a computer science major and you’re coding, go over there. If you’re a journalism major and you’re doing journalism, go over there. Let me tell you, for instance, I studied 19th century British religious poetry, and I don’t do any of those things. And so I’m all the way over there.
But that says you’re in the yes.
That’s good. That’s good. That’s all right. No. Mary-Jo has a wrinkle to this question. Hold on, Mary-Jo has a wrinkle.
I think this needs to be specific to data coding and all the very specific things that we do. For example, I went to journalism school, I actually have two journalism degrees, did not learn a damn thing about data in either one.
You went to Missouri!
In my classes.I had to major in investigative reporting as my track but I learned data in INB.
Help us out.
So if you went to school for data, or coding, then you’re in the yes group.
No, you’re in the no group.
The question is: Are you self-taught.
This is embarrassing. Did you go to school for coding, data, or something, then go there.
How about journalism in the back?
If you went to journalism school, maybe go in the middle.
So code—so computer science or data science, or statistics, or anything like quantitative, any of the sciences that are quantitative can go near the water. If you went to journalism school, go in the back, again. And if you are a 19th century religious poetry major, come up here with me. Journalism school in the back. Data/science/computer science over here. We have completely unrelated, kind of self-taught over here. That’s fantastic. What did you major in?
Visual art. Visual arts and a lot of art.
Communication design. That’s related. That’s semirelated.
Oh, that’s fancy. Who else has an useless major like me? All right. Hold on. David, what did you major in?
Opera! That is amazing! Whoa! You gotta warm up.
Architecture! That’s great!
Political science and history.
Economics. That’s a great one.
Philosophy. Another great one. We have other people.
Politics with a minor in journalism?
You get away from here.
Come back here.
What did you study?
A bunch of political science.
Political science. Maybe we should have a political science section. Yeah, political science, go stand by over by the food. Economics and political science, sort of related.
Social sciences. Social scientists come over here so this is the social science slash OpenNews, slash not participating. If you majored in poetry, you belong over here with me.
Oh, snap, stand in the middle. So we have journalism over here. We have—should we do like… no?
How old are you?
And then how much do you make? Brian likes getting me with that one. Lindsey, are you taking a picture? This is good. And Brian you wrote it up?
So write this down. So we have the humanities, my peeps over there. We have the computer science over here around the water physical we’ve got the social science—journalism in the back, and social science over by the wall. And what are you guys? They don’t go to this conference.
You are A.
That’s totally fine.
I can’t spell.
What’s C? Social science? we have another yes/no/maybe. Brian likes handing me the controversial ones. Do you want to do it?
Sure. My role is respected by my organization. Should we do yes by the water?
Yes, my role is respected in my organization over by the water.
My role is respected by my organization.
By your organization or your peers?
By your organization so they know what you do. If you consider yourself a journalist, they consider you a journalist, too. Saddest group. No one respects them. That’s not bad. That’s pretty good. Again, you are sent to a conference for what you do, so it’s a self-selection bias but still, I think a pretty decent one. I am not going to interview. I’ll ask Matt Waite. Tell us what’s wrong?
I am the only one.
I am the bus problem in the worst way.
You are the sort of token nerd.
I just didn’t want Kevin to feel bad.
Someone come up and help me pick one.
Millenial? What does that mean? Millenials.
Do you have the snake people self-extension installed? Yes or no?
All right. I might need help from the person who created this question let me see if I get this right. Millenials are people, I believe born before—or after—sorry, born after 1980, 1985, 1990, oh, sorry.
What about in between…
We’re supposed to guess?
Snake people. I don’t know what’s snake people. What is snake people. Tiff, is this your question?
There are some people here that are older.
Is this before or after?
It is A.
This is not what you arely. This is what you think millenials are.
So I asked this one because it’s a very contentious topic amongst my team and my company overall, where do you define the starting line for millenials.
Just like millenials to not like the factual answer.
I do not believe millenials are people.
God damn it. I don’t want to be a millenial.
I think typically it’s categorized…
I graduated high school in 1999. Core millenial. This is when it comes to be.
So you guys have the youngest? I don’t think so.
I’m just pretty sure. I mean, it seems to me that most of the people I know who get super psyched when the word millenial comes up are 25. So I’m going to go ahead and do the right math and say that we’re here. I am never going to think they’re the oldest.
All right. I have proof. I was born in 1986 and I’m squarely a millenial. My sister was born in 1980 and she is not a millenial. Anyone who’s born…
Sounds like an anecdote to me.
Anec-data is the new data.
To prom, I popped my collar. My favorite movie was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and I was of child-bearing age for most of this. So we’re going to talk about the time you spend at work. So the multiple choice that we’re ad libbing right now are, do you spend most of your time at work and you can stand in the middle if you have a hybrid role. Do you spend most of your time, coding, designing…
Meetings gotta go? Meetings gotta stay.
On a bad week, it’s…
So coding. Coding is here. Coding is over here. Reporting is over here. Designing is over here. All on the record.
Wait, there’s no E anymore? Email, I guess, email counts.
Put meeting in. Hold on. Take emailing out because that’s, like, everybody. Oh, we’re making a change. Am I missing anybody? We’ve got another spot.
They’re not mutually exclusive.
If you’re doing both, then it counts.
Then it counts for both categories.
So you end up in the middle. Writing and reporting. I think reporting/writing.
Where are you?
I’m in State Line right now.
Oh, that’s fantastic. Oh, that’s great. So we have a pure reporter, he’s wearing a fedora and a trenchcoat.
When writing is there. I think I should be more –
It’s more like reporting/writing, right? ‘Cause there aren’t people who are like I just interview and then I tell some other person what I said.
If I send VRA’s, and –
This is a good question because we don’t have that many people in the middle. What do you do?
I do coding and designing.
I feel like it’s half and half? What are you, in between?
Yeah, coding, designing, and reporting.
That’s fantastic. These are great jobs. These are terrific. You’re also doing all of these things?
I think I would be in meeting. That’s why I’m sad all the time. We’re in the sad group. Are we a mix of meeting and not participating? ‘Cause you’re having meetings.
They’re in a meeting. Sisi, how many meetings do you go to? Are you literally in a meeting right now?
Yes. [ Laughter ]
She’s in a Slack meeting right now.
We have somebody—we have somebody emailing currently as we speak. He’s emailing.
Well, I didn’t know because I spend most of my time analyzing data.
Oh, my God, how did we forget that one?
What is it?
Let’s put that one over here.
No, over here. Over here with singer, right?
Analyzing data’s over here. Any shuffles? No shuffles.
I’m on Twitter.
Oh, so you’re—meaning you’re just like on Twitter all day? if I follow you, I’m screwed. I suppose.
Oh, wait, Jen. Wait. Oh, sorry.
Who are the people in the middle?
Who are the people in the middle?
All the things.
All the things.
You spend most of your time doing.
Always win, Sisi. Coding?
This is what you spend most of your time doing.
Excellent point, Sisi.
Ah… couple of shuffles now. Wait, so these are hybrids in the middle, Lindsey.
And these over here are the meeters. These are the meeters/not paying attention people. These are the people who they are currently having a hackathon over here. They’re coding. But wait, is that where you’re supposed to be sitting? You’re also not paying attention.
Yeah, I think they’re not paying attention.
These are—they’re having a hackathon. Where are the designers?
No, you should get over there, too.
All right. Everybody have that? That’s a good question. I like that. We just beta tested a question.
Should we do team size?
All right. So now, we want to do team size. Brian’s going to organize this one.
All right. We’re going to do how big is your team?
The team you work on.
That I report?
That you feel like you’re part of the same team. You report to the same boss. You have lunch with them.
Some people aren’t team normative.
If you work all by yourself, you’re going to A, which is over here, I believe.
What do you think the cutoff should be?
What’s the cut-off? Help us.
And there are five.
Five to ten?
Ten to 20?
10-20, more than 20.
I think 10+. So it just means the solo operators. These are the “just mes.” Where do you work?
I’m a freelancer.
So of course, just me by definition. But Jue is sort of like a hybrid.
It’s like project group like my—do you see what I’m saying?
No, no. Hold on. Say it again. We have a flaw in our question. This is important.
It’s just kind of weird because project teams versus whole company’s like this, like, what do you mean, do you mean like people who do the same function?
Yeah, yeah. People you would consider in your department. People who do the same things you do. Interns count.
Wait. Interns count.
Interns count! So D, I guess.
Rebekah’s… nobody’s in the middle. So this is –
I think this is the only question where this worked.
I’m going to stand over here by ProPublica. This is write work. I’m glad that finally all my coworkers agree on one question. Stacy where are you? You’re in between? So you’re in 11-20?
Wait, so this is Team Giant? You’re from Boxer? No we have New York Times. So you’re from Boxer and New York Times. And this is the hackathon again? We have the hackathon. Awesome. Team two. That’s a great question. Are we going to wrap up? I think that’s all the time we got. You know, we are kind of taking this show on the road a little bit and we are doing exactly this and we are kind of testing these questions. So Brian and I completely overdid the assignment and tried to write a survey all on our own even though we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. So we’ve put a GitHub repository with our incredibly embarrassing, way, way too long surveys.
So if you go to that Bitly URL you will see the GitHub repository where all the questions are. I really encourage, and in fact, beg you to read the questions, to send us pull requests. To send us issues, to send us emails. To tell us the ways in which we the way that we can ask these questions better. But hopefully somebody at a major reporting firm who asked not to be named, and start this early next year, but I think the plan is to actually do this.
So thank you everybody very much for helping come up with new questions and for honing the ones that we already have. Thanks, everybody.