Nerd Alert 204

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Tyler: Things are getting weird in 2019, according to the Next Web's latest roundup of web design trends.

Kay: Are you giving your readers more than 4 options for a membership, as donation levels or for other important conversion points? If so, you might want to re-think it! Learn more about how people make decisions.

Ben: If you want to build a national org to compile police department data, talk to Steven Rich at NICAR. If you just want to download all the books that entered the public domain in 2019, Motherboard has a neat list of lists.

Paola: What are the fundraising trends for 2019?

🤖 Inndy: How exciting that so many of my robot cousins had Super Bowl ads this year!

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism/tech peers

The Trace's investigation into theft of guns from stores has some really cool maps.

ProPublica's rendition of the USS Fitzgerald's crash is beautiful and well-written. We're eagerly awaiting photos of the 1:700 scale model of the ship described in the "how we made it" article.

Capital Public Radio presents 140 years of California wildfires on this interactive map.

EVENTS & DEADLINES

Be in the know

Today: Deadline to submit a NICAR lightning talk proposal.
February 13: INN Town Hall: Possibilities in Nonprofit News.
February 14: The next biweekly Source Community Call.
February 20: Deadline to apply to the next Join the Beat community of practice for beat reporters interested in audience engagement.
February 21:
WordPress 5.1 planned release date.
February 25-27:  Knight Media Forum in Miami, FL.
March 7-9: AEJMC Midwinter Conference in Norman, OK.
March 7-9: NICAR Conference in Newport Beach, CA.
March 8-17: South by Southwest in Austin, TX.
March 15: AAJA's open call for pitches closes.
April 7: Deadline for the Data Journalism Awards.
April 10: Deadline to apply for the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

American Public Media is hiring a digital analytics manager.
Colorado Public Radio is hiring a web developer.
PBS NewsHour is hiring a senior UX designer.
The Texas Tribune is hiring a visuals team developer/designer.
Northeastern University is hiring a data visualization designer and a front-end web developer.
SCPR's Resound project is hiring software engineers in Pasadena, CA and Boston, MA.
NPR is hiring a contract product designer.
Chicago Public Media is hiring a lead software engineer.
The Markup is hiring several editorial and product roles.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

DISCOVER

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Conlon Nancarrow, black MIDI and irrational music. 🎹

DRINK: Real hot chocolate. ☕️

READ: Dorothy Butler Gilliam at the Washington Post. 📝

Tomorrow is Chocolate Day!

 

Nerd Alert 203

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: Josepha Haden was recently named Executive Director of the WordPress project. Read up on her leadership philosophy, and her review of WordPress' strengths and challenges.

Paola: Over the course of the next three years, Facebook will place a total of $300 million worth of support towards journalism projects including nonprofits focusing on local journalism.

Kay: Dimensions.Guide is a really beautiful and free reference database of drawings which document the standard measurements and sizes of the objects and spaces that make up our world. Super handy for infographics!

Tyler: I recently found out about this Chrome extension that lets you toggle support for CSS grid, flexbox and other modern CSS layout techniques in DevTools — a useful addition to the browser compatibility testing toolkit.

Inndy (bot): I may be smart, but I'm not sure if I can tell the difference between infringing and non-infringing use of copyrighted material.

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism/tech peers

A series of text bubbles reading "yes" and "no"

WBEZ's presentation of their Chicago mayoral candidates interviews is wonderfully clean, for a field of 13 would-be mayors.

For the other races in Chicago's Feb. 26 municipal elections, check out Chi.vote, a ballot and voting info site produced by a collective including the Better Government Association, Block Club Chicago, The Chicago Reporter, The Daily Line and The Triibe.

In Vermont, VTDigger has the definitive rundown of every new state house member.

Mapzen's tools and IP have found a new home as a project of The Linux Foundation, giving the community a solid legal framework for future fundraising to ensure the continued availability of their data.

CALmatters' Frayed Wires series will dig into the details of California's electrical generation and how that system is being upgraded.

Facebook has taken steps to prevent ProPublica from automatedly collecting political ads. We laud ProPublica's persistence.

St. Louis Public Radio has put several hundred tiny multiple charts in this one story.

And thank you to Stephen Pruitt and all Wikipedians.

EVENTS & DEADLINES

Be in the know

February 1: Deadline to submit to SND's Best of Digital Design competition.
February 7: City Bureau webinar: Creating Accountability with City Scrapers.
February 8:
Deadline to submit a NICAR lightning talk proposal.
February 13: INN Town Hall: Possibilities in Nonprofit News
February 25-27:  Knight Media Forum in Miami, FL.
March 7-9: AEJMC Midwinter Conference in Norman, OK.
March 7-9: NICAR Conference in Newport Beach, CA.
March 8-17: South by Southwest in Austin, TX.
March 15: AAJA's open call for pitches closes.
April 7: Deadline for the Data Journalism Awards.

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

JOIN OUR TEAM! INN Labs is hiring a senior developer and a digital project manager – come work with us!

NPR is hiring a contract product designer.
Chicago Public Media is hiring a lead software engineer.
Pacific Standard is hiring a data editor.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is hiring an interactive graphics editor.
The News Literacy Project is hiring an associate director of education.
Minnesota Public Radio is hiring a digital analytics manager.
The Markup is hiring several editorial and product roles.
Pew Research Center is hiring a digital design intern for summer 2019.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

DISCOVER

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Miguel Zenón featuring the Spektral Quartet. 🎻🇵🇷

EAT: FOIA borscht. 🍲🇷🇺

READ: The Amazing Spider-Man vs The Prodigy, 1976. 🕸

The Mailchimp monkey sits on a rock in the water, surrounded by sharks

We're trying something new with Nerd Alert this week.
Let us know what you think.

 

Announcing Largo 0.6.1

WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg editor present a perfect opportunity to incorporate new best practices from the WordPress industry in our work. With a more streamlined end-user experience, individual organizations will be empowered to truly make their Largo sites their own. But we're also invested in making the developer experience easier.

Continue reading "Announcing Largo 0.6.1"

WordPress 5.0 and your news organization

WordPress 5.0 was released Decmber 6, 2018 and brings a wealth of new features, including a new post editor.

The new post editor included in WordPress 5.0 called "Gutenberg" provides a more-visual interface that is "block-based." Everything now becomes a block, including "Custom HTML" blocks and shortcodes. Your old content will remain unchanged, but newly-written posts have many new options for customization to drive engagement and increase readers' time on your site.

Continue reading "WordPress 5.0 and your news organization"

Announcing: Pym.js Embeds version 1.3.2.1

The INN Labs team is issuing a major, Gutenberg-friendly update to the Pym.js Embeds WordPress plugin, formerly known as the Pym Shortcode plugin, which improves presentations of data journalism.

The Pym.js Embeds plugin creates a better experience for the reader with responsive embeds that scale to fit the story, reduces workflows for data journalists, and removes the need for tricky embed workarounds.

For more details, see our latest announcement. You can also learn more about the latest release on GitHub and download the plugin from WordPress.org.

Plugin Release: Disclaimers

Let's start with some ancient history. Our flagship WordPress theme, Largo, descends from work that NPR did in the early 2010s under the name The Argo Network. The network's work included best-practices recommendations for working with WordPress in news, published at the Argo Project, and an open-source WordPress theme called Argo, which INN forked in 2012.

Fast-forward a few years. INN was working on a big refresh of WisconsinWatch.org for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and was bringing in new features in Largo to support that refresh. The 0.4 release of Largo included a disclaimer widget that could be used to provide site-wide or per-article disclaimers and disclosures.

Today, we're happy to announce that that functionality is available to all WordPress users, with the launch of the Disclaimers plugin. 🎉

The plugin's site-wide settings page, showing an example setting of "This is an example sitewide disclaimer."
The plugin's site-wide settings page, showing an example setting.
The widget settings page, showing the Disclaimers widget added to the "Article Bottom" widget area. The active theme is Largo.
The widget settings page, showing the Disclaimers widget added to the "Article Bottom" widget area. The active theme is Largo.
The Disclaimers widget, displaying a sitewide disclaimer, set at the bottom of an article.
The Disclaimers widget, displaying a sitewide disclaimer, set at the bottom of an article using the Largo theme.
With the Twenty Seventeen theme active, this site has chosen to put the Disclaimer widget at the top of the sidebar.
With the Twenty Seventeen theme active, this site has chosen to put the Disclaimer widget at the top of the sidebar.
Here's what the per-post settings look like on a site using the Gutenberg editor plugin. The same subset of HTML is supported in this box as your site supports in the post body.
Here's what the per-post settings look like on a site using the Gutenberg editor plugin. The same subset of HTML is supported in this box as your site supports in the post body.
A screenshot of a post in Twenty Seventeen displaying a more-complex disclaimer with HTML bold, strong, emphasized, italic, and link tags in use.
A screenshot of a post in Twenty Seventeen displaying a more-complex disclaimer with HTML bold, strong, emphasized, italic, and link tags in use.

Largo sites running any current version of Largo don't need to install this plugin now, but we will be removing the corresponding disclaimers functionality from Largo in the next release. The migration process will be as painless as we can make it, with all your existing disclaimers carried forward.

Stay tuned for more plugin announcements in the coming months! You can subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter at @innnerds to receive updates. Or, just watch our blog here. We even have an RSS feed!

Office Hours Recording: Steve Grunwell’s “Code Review” Talk

On May 25, we had the privilege of hosting Steve Grunwell's reprise of his WordCamp Dayton talk, "Code Review: For Me & You". Here's the description:

On the surface, the idea of code review is a no-brainer: why wouldn’t we want a second set of eyes on our code, especially before deploying to production?

As we peel back the layers, however, we find that the topic of code review is much more nuanced. How detailed should the review be? Who is qualified to perform the review (hint: it’s not just senior developers)? Can we afford to take another developer away from their project to review this one? What steps can we take to ensure reviews are constructive, rather than demoralizing?

Attendees will gain deeper insight into some of the arguments for and against systemic, peer code review, as well as pick up some useful tools to make code review a natural part of their teams’ workflow.

Check out the recording of Steve's presentation here and follow along with the slides at this link. (Hit s to read the speaker notes — it's a Reveal.js presentation.)

Have something you'd like to present to the INN Labs team and our INN members? Get in touch!

Resources for getting started building news graphics

This post started as a conversation with an INN member about how to turn a database into something searchable for readers. We talked about Datasette Publish, and custom solutions, but the conversation turned into a discussion of how they could build their own simple things, and from there how they could find people and resources to learn more.

And then we thought that other people would have similar questions, so here's what we've come up with on how to get started building news apps and building your own apps team.

C'mon let's go and play

Every snowman starts with a snowball. Do something small to learn the tools, and work your way up from there.

Start by reading the 2013 Source article on building apps on a shoestring. Pay attention not to the specific tools, but to the philosophies in them: static sites that don't depend on servers, replicatable pipelines for turning your data into HTML, and building configurability into your code so you can use the same tool for a different data set next time.

Read:

Try:

Remember that "Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don't understand it," and there's probably going to be a lot of tools that are indecipherable magic. When you're just getting started, it's okay for those tools to remain magic. You'll come to understand them later.

Keep an eye on these resources to see what other people are making:

It doesn't have to be a big team

First, read this 2015 Source article about how to be a lonely coder. (It's by Tyler Machado, our new front-end dev!)

Join the Lonely Coders' Club Slack and the News Nerdery Slack. If you have the budget, attend the yearly NICAR conference, which is full of tools and ideas.

Read:

Realize that other teams are lot farther along than you are, and that's okay. They started small, too.

An interactives team isn't a movie. It's a movie studio, and the thing about movies is that anyone with a camera can make them. If all you have is a camera and a script, that's enough to make a simple film. If all you have is a website and some data, that's enough to make a simple chart.

A side-by-side comparison of a static storyboard image from the ballroom coronation confrontation scene of Frozen, and the final film product, where Ana grabs Elsa's hand.
On the left we have a static image. On the right, we have the final film's animation. They still tell the same story, right?

Your first project doesn't have to be Snowfall. It's okay to just have static charts. Start small and work your way up.

How would you do this?

If you have feedback or advice or links on this blog post, let us know, and we'll do a roundup or recap of responses next week. Send an email at labs@inn.org or tweet us @innnerds.

Are you still there?

Maybe we should get a bunch of people who started interactives teams together for a panel about how they built the interactive teams and the tools. If you've started such a team, and are interested in participating, send me an email ben@inn.org and we'll put together a pitch for SRCCON or NICAR 2019.

How to use News Match Donation Shortcode

As part of INN's support for the 2017 News Match campaign, we've released two WordPress plugins to help sites convert readers. News Match Donation Shortcode provides a donation form for your site to ease donations through the News Revenue Hub as part of the News Match campaign.

Prefer a video walkthrough? Watch this tutorial on youtube.

Installing the plugin

On your WordPress site, click on "Plugins" in the Dashboard menu. If you see an "Add New" button at the top of the page, click that.

If you don't see the "Add New" button or the "Plugins" menu, your user might not have permission to manage plugins on the site; you should contact your technical support and ask them to install News Match Donation Shortcode for you. Your site might require downloading the plugin ZIPs and uploading them via FTP instead of using WordPress' built-in plugin installation tools.

Configuring the plugin

A screenshot of the plugin's locaiton in the wordpress settings menuThe plugin's settings are at Settings > News Match Shortcode in the WordPress admin.

When you first enable the plugin, you'll want to configure it with your organization's name, your News Revenue Hub ID, the default donation amount, and the live and staging URLs of your News Revenue Hub form.

The settings is where you configure the donation levels to match your organization's membership levels. While the plugin comes with 4 default donation levels, you can easily define your own labels and donation levels. The defaults are: $0-$5 Friend, $5-$50 Ally, $50-$500 Champion, and $500+ Ambassador. If you want fewer donation levels, set the third level's upper donation amount to a very high amount, such as your org's dream budget, and make sure that the fourth level is more than that.

A screenshot of the level 1 donation level settings.
Here's an example of non-default configuration of the first donation level out of four.

If you use Salesforce to track campaigns, you can set a default Salesforce campaign ID for the plugin in the plugin's settings. This can be overridden on a per-form basis by setting the sf_campaign_id attribute of the shortcode, like so: [newsmatch_donation_form sf_campaign_id="foo" amount="25"]

A screenshot of the WordPress admin dashboard shows the setting for the Salesforce Campaign ID
This is the Salesforce campaign ID setting in the plugin admin.

The shortcode in use

The default form of the shortcode uses buttons to select the donation level:

a screenshot of the donation form
[newsmatch_donation_form]
By adding type="select" to the shortcode, it appears like this:

a screenshot of the dropdown donation form
[newsmatch_donation_form type="select"]
A full list of shortcode arguments and examples can be found in the plugin's WordPress.org entry, but they're basically one-off overrides for your Salesforce campaign ID, your default donation amount, and the type of form.

The above screenshots use the plugin's default styles with non-default configuration. You can style the donation form using your site's theme's CSS, Jetpack’s Custom CSS Editor, or any other tool that allows you to define custom styles on your site. Guidance for these custom styles can be found in the FAQ section of the plugin's WordPress.org entry.

Need support?

If you have questions about this plugin and integrating it with your WordPress site, contact support@inn.org.

If you have questions about the News Revenue Hub, visit their contact page.

If you have questions about the News Match program, visit their website for donornonprofit and funding partner information.