In Part 2 of our "Meet the Team" series, we'll get to know Kay Lima, our Support & Community Lead.
Kay joined the team in January of this year to support our members and clients, helping them make the best possible use of the tools we build – and she's been a driving force ever since. Not only does she own our support process and evangelize our work, but she's spearheaded internal operational improvements, is a fierce project manager, and she's really brought the team together by introducing us to all sorts of team-building techniques.
More from Kay, in her own words:
Where are you from?
Originally from MA, now living in sunny Denver, CO.
How would you describe what you do?
My official title is Support & Community Lead; I oversee the support, documentation and training for Largo and the plugins we maintain, provide Google Analytics, AdWords, and SEO consulting, some front-end development and also manage website projects.
What's your favorite part of your job?
Helping our incredible members and working with such a fantastic team!
What are some noteworthy projects you've worked on at INN?
So far, I've revamped our support Help Desk (support.largoproject.org) and our project management process, presented a webinar on Google AdWords and Ad Grants, and have directly helped 60 different members with ongoing support.
Where do you get your news?
TheSkimm, Alexa flash briefings, NPR, Vice News/Viceland, NYTimes (the Sunday paper edition), Snapchat, and Twitter.
Who or what inspires you?
Tony Hsieh (for team culture and customer service), April Bloomfield (general awesomeness), girls who code (and their inspiring projects) and my wonderful mother.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I love hiking, running, and skateboarding with my husband and our dog. You can also find me at a craft brewery or cafe, local tech meetup, farmers market, or working on a personal coding or brush lettering project.
What's your favorite part of working remotely?
Working with my dog!
What's your favorite kind of pie?
What's your personality type?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
A Midas touch of sorts, except instead of turning what I touch to gold, it would instantly solve problems and eliminate suffering.
What's your favorite album?
This is really hard... A three-way tie between: Fugazi - The Argument, The Clash - Combat Rock and Verdi's La Traviata recorded at the Met with Pavarotti and Studer, conducted by James Levine.
Favorite place you've traveled to?
Sicily. What an incredibly wild and beautiful place! I spent time there (and elsewhere in Italy) working on organic farms and eating... lots of eating.
Are you a dog or cat person?
Definitely a dog person. 🙂
Most recently used gif:
And lastly, describe yourself in 5 emojis or less:
Ben: Today, we use software to draw maps. In days of yore, though, it required a number of specialized, shiny, mechanical implements, a number of which have been photographed by the CIA and posted on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.
Gabe: Behance’s Year in Review is a beautiful compendium of exemplary illustration, photography, and design work in 2016.
Julia: After experimenting with 24 different data visualization tools to chart a single dataset, Lisa Charlotte Rost shared her findings to help you choose the right tech for your needs.
RC: Freedom of the Press Foundation has released Secure The News, their automated tool to track adoption of HTTPS website encryption by news organizations.
Muckrock – the collaborative news site that allows you to file, track, and share public records requests – recently went open source in order to help more people take advantage of our right to public records.
From Muckrock: "Our hope is that you’ll find new and useful ways to extend our work, whether you’re a newsroom standing up an internal FOIA tracker or maybe even a government agency looking for a better way to intake and process records requests."
If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had more than 16 job openings this week. Check it out and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!
Adam: Rekha Murthy proposes a framework for how public media should conduct journalism in the age of Donald Trump. Worth a read even if you’re not in public media, as independent nonprofit news organizations puzzle through many of the same questions.
RC made a trip across the pond to participate in a hack event organized by The Trust Project in London earlier this week. The goal was to create tools that can help news organizations meet eight "trust factors" that consumers have identified as important in judging what to believe. RC worked with some folks from the BBC to develop a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to correlate reporters' topical expertise with story topics, such that contextual reporter bios can be displayed with related stories. Stayed tuned next week for the plugin release!
If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had 18 job openings this week. Check it out and sign up here if you'd like to get that in your inbox every week. Receiving two newsletters from INN is twice as good as one!
It's been a good summer for journalism conferences. This is the first of some session reviews and resource roundups from these events.
SRCCON 2016, OpenNews’ third annual gathering of newsroom technologists and data journalists, was held in Portland during the last week of July. This was my second time attending the event, which is organized as a hands-on unconference. Sessions tend to be conversational and participatory, with lots of brainstorming, wireframing, and knowledge-sharing. And although most participants are tech savvy, many sessions are more about people than code – focusing on newsroom culture and processes rather than technical tips and tricks.
The following are a few of the sessions I especially enjoyed.
Covering police shootings (and other events) when the data is terrible →
Steven Rich and Aaron Williams facilitated this session about the Washington Post’s methods for gathering their own data on U.S. police shootings. Since the government dataset on the topic is so incomplete, the Post had do all the legwork themselves – from tracking down local news sources and police records to building its own database and Django admin panel to manage each incident and track its fact checking status. This piece is the public-facing result of their efforts.
It was really great to get a glimpse behind the scenes into their process for collecting and cataloging this data. They’ve gathered a great deal of information that the public doesn’t get to see, and it was interesting to learn just how manual the process is – individual reporters calling every police department and victims’ families to verify information, etc.
The session ended with a question about maintainability: Will the Post be able to continue collecting this data this rigorously for years to come? This is a really important question in data reporting. When information is collected for a specific investigation or a particular report, what happens to the process after the original story is published? Can newsrooms afford to continue dedicating resources to maintaining ongoing data collection? How much should newsrooms be accountable for collecting this information – shouldn’t this be the government’s responsibility?
This was a fun one. Vox Media’s Georgia Cowley and Josh Laincz facilitated this session, which was all about redesigning a brand from concept to completion. The first activity was a case study on Vox’s rebrand for Curbed, a site dedicated to place – homes, neighborhoods, and cities. They explained how the redesign process started with a concept, “creating spaces,” which evolved into a metaphor, “a room,” which then morphed into the abstract design elements of Curbed’s brand:
Flat geometric shapes angled in such a way to evoke walls and corners and shadow.
Georgia and Josh guided the group through one more case study on the design system used to develop the brand for the 1968 Olympics.
Accessibility is a topic I love to see covered, so I was excited to find a packed room for this session facilitated by John Burn-Murdoch and Joanna Kao of the Financial Times. We discussed the considerations and challenges we all encounter while striving to create accessible news products – and we looked at these topics not only from a developer’s standpoint, but also from the lens of designers, product managers, and social media specialists. It was one of the more productive sessions, and the facilitators prepared a great tip sheet on the subject. Also check out the notes and live transcript from the session.
(And for more tips on building accessible and mobile-friendly interactives, take a look at my Data Viz for All resources, originally compiled for SRCCON 2015.)
What ideas can we borrow from the design world to solve news design problems? →
This session led participants through a few of 18F’s design methods and illustrated how they can help solve different types of news product and project management problems. The session touched on three different areas in journalism tech – product development, editorial projects, and internal tools and operations. Participants chose one of those three areas and then completed a modified feature dot-voting exercise as we discussed the common problems we face while working on these projects. The outcome of that exercise was recorded in the session notes.
Give and Receive: Can we strengthen our community through remote mentorship and office hours? →
I led this session, which was focused on brainstorming ways to better facilitate connections between current members of the journalism-tech community and individuals who may not have the consistent access to the wider network. The discussion was framed around the idea of “office hours,” but it was meant to be a broader reimagining of what that a relationship between individuals could look like.
The idea for this conversation came out of this year’s SNDMakes event in San Francisco, where my team tackled a similar question and developed a prototype that would pair individuals for online video feedback sessions. The thought process behind the prototype was very interesting to me, and I was really curious what other news nerds might dream up given the same parameters.
The session started with a roundtable discussion about different users’ needs when it comes to staying connected with the community – the needs of the person who might want help or feedback, and the needs of the person providing it – and then the second half of the session was a design exercise to create an ideal workflow that would meet those needs.
An interesting idea born from one group’s design exercise was a slackbot that solves “the pin-drop problem” – where someone may want to ask a question or get feedback about something, but they don’t want to interrupt anyone else or potentially ask a “dumb” question in front of multiple people. So this slackbot would take an anonymized question and add it to a queue of questions to be released only during a specified office hour, which is when the host would answer. The group liked that this concept would allow you to ask the question at the moment you’re stuck instead of during the office hour (when it’s easy to forget what you hoped to ask).
I thought the session went pretty well, as a whole, thanks to all the participants!
And the same could be said for SRCCON in general – OpenNews does a truly fantastic job creating an engaging and inclusive event, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.
Jack: Amidst lots of gloomy talk about the decline of local news, might we be missing how it’s being resurrected through innovation? Local Media Consortium’s Rusty Coates says the gloom comes from the perspective of what local news was, rather than what it’s becoming.
The Texas Tribune and Reveal published a joint investigation identifying at least 140 border officials who were arrested or convicted for acts of corruption. The app nicely integrates narrative storytelling with data visualization.
The Nerds partnered with NPR Digital Services to develop the latest release of the plugin, which provides access to audio, articles, images and other content from NPR and NPR member stations, dating back to 1995. The archive consists of over 250,000 stories grouped into more than 5,000 different aggregations – now at your fingertips thanks to our handy plugin.
Adam: For five years now, OpenNews has been working to support folks working in journalism and technology. Take a few minutes to fill out this survey and help them plan their future. And (because who doesn’t love surveys?) here’s another survey from OpenNews fellow Sandhya Kambhampati on newsroom onboarding/offboarding processes.
Ben: Brent Victor’s Web of Alexandria follow-up post talks about the dichotomy of the Internet: Is it permanent, like a library, or ephemeral, like letters? Even though we treat it like it’s permanent, many, many things pass away. And many things that should perhaps pass away do not.
Gabe: A call to arms to put more thought in choosing your next typeface. Also, a great compendium of available web font resources.
Jack: The future of journalism may be predicated on relationships with audiences, but if so how do you build them? An interesting report on “social journalism” published by the Tow-Knight Center says “share, find and connect.”
Settling for Misconduct: The INN Nerds worked closely with data journalists from the Chicago Reporter to build a searchable database of Chicago's police misconduct lawsuits – lawsuits that have cost the city more than $210 million between 2012 and 2015. Explore the app and the rest of the series on chicagoreporter.com.
The Nerds are on a roll with WordPress plugins these days! Two new ones this week:
Plugins galore! This week we released three shiny new WordPress plugins:
Term Debt Consolidator examines your site's tags and categories and groups them by similarity, allowing you to consolidate groups of similar terms down to a single term of your choosing.
Google Analytics Popular Posts queries Google Analytics for your website's pageview data and uses an algorithm – based on publish date and total number of pageviews – to determine a weighted popularity score for a post. Using this scoring mechanism, the plugin generates a list of the most popular posts for a site.
Super Cool Ad Inserter allows site administrators to insert widgets – like ads, newsletter signups, and other calls to action – into posts at set intervals.