I've just wrapped up the first month (plus a week, because I'm slow) of my fellowship at the Center for Investigative Reporting.
It has been grand.
I've been working on a variety of projects – some for the newsroom, some for my own research – and I am consuming a crazy amount of new information. I have a decent grasp on python now. I've collected a lot of great info about style guides and front-end best practices that I'm condensing into documentation for the team. I've been developing a component-driven framework to help build consistent user interfaces for Reveal's interactive news apps. And I've been banging my head against a wall trying to figure out what I should focus on for conference session proposals. Woo!
I also attended my first NICAR and had – in all honesty – too good a time. It's been weeks now and I'm still having post-NICAR withdrawals.
But the most amazing thing about the fellowship so far has been witnessing the inner workings of an investigative news organization. I had very little exposure to the process behind data-driven journalism prior to the fellowship, so it's been eye-opening to see how everyone tracks down sources and data sets, cleans and verifies the data, and then turns their findings into awesome, compelling stories. I still haven't felt ready to pitch my own investigation, but thanks to the rest of the data team and some sessions at NICAR, I'm confident and excited to venture into that realm in the coming weeks.
Gotta get some bylines.
And beyond the work produced at CIR, the amount of passion, talent, and skill my coworkers have is really inspiring. Everyone has so much expertise and puts so much energy into their projects. (I realize it sounds like this should be a given, but I've worked at a few places where it seemed like most people were essentially checked out. Not so at CIR, which is pretty cool.)
Overall, I'm quite happy with my fellowship experience so far, and I'm excited to start sharing information at a more rapid pace. I've done a lot of pre-work (researching the brand and various best practices, completing a lot of tutorials, trying out different tools, helping out as needed) and I feel like I'm about to hit my stride on all the style guide work I've been doing. Plus I'm about to start work on my first data viz project, and I am super excited to get something out in the open. (Shout out to Aaron for bringing me onto the project.)
Good things are on the way.