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You Should be the Vox Media 2016 OpenNews Fellow

We're excited to be a Knight-Mozilla OpenNews host for a second year.

We first got involved with OpenNews because we believed we could help take the fellowships to the next level. We wanted to go beyond the idea of each person being involved at one news organization. We knew we needed to create connections and projects and community with people within the media orgs to create an open source network.

In 2015, we made progress toward that. Our fellow Kavya Sukumar worked with us to release a new open-source system called Autotune, a project we built to address reusability in our work. We shared the project with other OpenNews fellows at a hackathon in Portland this summer so they could more easily build reusable open source projects as well.

We also contributed to the community through participation in the second-annual SRCCON, a conference organized by OpenNews.Our attending team was made up of seven journalists, designers, and engineers. They participated in many of the sessions in Minneapolis and helped host a few panels. David Yee hosted a panel on building new version control systems for writers and editors. Ramla Mahmood discussed brainstorming and how it can encourage teams to dream big. Our 2015 news fellow Kavya Sukumar talked about making art where none exists.

We’re serious when we say we want to grow this network and make something meaningful with our fellow and others around the world. And this year was just the start. You should apply if you want to be a part of what’s next.

What you'd work on

Vox Media OpenNews fellow Kavya Sukumar and other members of the Vox Product team at NICAR 2015 in Atlanta.

Vox Media OpenNews fellow Kavya Sukumar and other members of the Vox Product team at the NICAR 2015 Conference in Atlanta.

Product design is at the heart of what we do at Vox Media. We’re working alongside others at our company to solve the problem of developing high-value digital journalism, storytelling, and brand advertising at scale. And we’d want our fellow to forge the same kind of relationships.

While the overall experience will be shaped by the kind of work our fellow wants to do, here are a few projects we’ve been kicking around:

Experiments: Like, real experiments. With hypotheses and conclusions. We’re working on better tools for development and tools for journalists, but we’ve done this mainly to satisfy our own obvious needs. We need a scientific approach to help us refine these tools and test new ideas.

Tools: More development on Autotune so we can continue rolling out new tools to our teams. So far we’ve open-sourced a tool for making image sliders, or shareable randomizers, or social-optimized images. We even made a demo version of Autotune so you can play around with it. Other tools we know we want to build include things like a great timeline maker, a map builder, or a Bingo card maker.

Elections: 2016 will be a big and important year for our fellow because of the elections, which each of our sites will be covering from many different angles.

Data journalism: We’re doing more and more data projects on our sites every day. We’ve also open-sourced a few of the data sets we’ve worked with.

Conferences and events: We’ve been actively involved in SRCCON for the last two years, and will continue to be. Our product team also hosts various events that we’d want our fellow to participate in.

Bonus point skills

Above all, we want a fellow who is excited to learn, eager to collaborate with a team, willing to try new things, and has a passion for storytelling.

Specifically, bonus points if you have any of these skills:

  • Experience with user-experience testing: A/B, multivariate testing, in-person, experiment design
  • An interest in measuring and influencing the quantitative and qualitative impact of journalism using statistics and data science - not just online, but on every platform where our content can be consumed

  • Excellent news judgment; Ability to collect, research and analyze data from diverse sources
  • Worked on small development teams and with remote team members
  • Experience using a variety of programming languages and frameworks
  • Expertise in online visualization tools, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and relevant code libraries such as JQuery and D3.js.
  • GIS and online mapping experience.
  • Creativity to explore all forms of data visualization, from video to VR and from interactive maps to rich multimedia graphics.
  • Experience building JavaScript-driven interfaces using frameworks like jQuery and Backbone.js
  • Built and deployed into production a non-trivial Ruby on Rails application
  • Experience building high-traffic web applications, writing complex and efficient SQL queries, profiling and optimizing code, and devising and implementing caching strategies
  • Love or strong tolerance for animated GIFs and bad puns

Other reasons working at Vox Media is great

Vox Media's director of platforms Mandy Brown demos the Vox Product Code of Conduct at Vax 2015.

You get to work directly with a newsroom, at scale. Vox Media is home to eight amazing media brands, ranging everything from sports to fashion to politics. As a fellow here, you get a chance to work with all of them.

Work on code driven by daily news cycle. The continuous influx of news allows developers and designers to respond quickly to what’s happening in the world and gives us an environment to listen to reporters, test ideas, and experiment in the open to inform larger product decisions and strategy.

Solve bigger engineering problems. Building tools to sustain hundreds of reporters and editors, be functional for dozens of designers and engineers, and be viewable by our millions of monthly readers is not an easy feat, but it is a challenging and rewarding one that our fellow will get to face.

Non-work work. We have fun. A lot of it. Smack in the middle of the fellowship falls our annual hackathon, Vax, where the whole product team gets together for a week to build great things. We also do mini-hackathons and are involved in various community activities.

We respect each other. We have a workplace that is open, honest and respectful. We believe so much in our culture, that we’ll soon be releasing our Vox Product code of conduct to the public under a Creative Commons license.

And if you’re still not convinced, read these testimonials from Kavya: this and this.

Apply now or tell a friend!