Continuing ed on the cheap

If Phase I of the Internet tsunami was adjusting to shifts in the journalism pecking order, Phase II may be learning how to translate all the raw data that’s being unleashed into compelling stories. Bottom line? Take advantage of budget-friendly learning opportunities like this week-end’s Hack Jersey hackathon at Montclair State, which promises to be a good hands-on introduction to data crunching and coding. Although registration for the hackathon is closed, here are two ways to get in on the action:

  • Friday night: The launch party at Fitzgerald’s 1928 in Glen Ridge. The party (hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar) starts at 7 p.m. and is free to anyone interested in news and innovation, but you must RSVP for a ticket. This is a chance to get a feel for the possibilities of data journalism as hackathon participants introduce themselves to each other and form teams. Sponsors and editors from The Star-LedgerThe Record and elsewhere have also been invited.
  • Sunday afternoon: Keynote speeches from Stephen Engelberg, editor in chief of ProPublica, and Jeff Larson, a News Apps developer at ProPublica plus project demonstrations and awards. These events are all open to the public and will start about 1:15 p.m. and run until about 4 p.m. at University Hall on the Montclair State campus. No RSVP necessary; just show up. The speeches and presentations will also be streamed on the web.
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Contest 2.0

It’s official: our annual Excellence in Journalism contest opens today. This year, for the first time, the contest will be online; entries will be submitted through the Better Newspaper Contest. As with all digital migrations, it’s required some heavy lifting. (Thank you, Ron Miskoff!)  Please be patient. We know the online version will require an adjustment, so we have done our best to walk you through the process. If you click on the Contest tab above, you’ll find a contest overview, guidelines, a complete list of contest categories, directions for submitting, and even information about how you can volunteer. Don’t hesitate to email us at if you encounter any problems.…

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Radio SPJ: cartoonist Thomas Nast

Tune in on Saturday, Jan. 5 at noon Eastern when our guest on Studio SPJ will be the author of a new biography on the legendary editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast.

The half-hour Internet radio program will feature an interview with Fiona Deans Halloran, whose book “Thomas Nast – The Father of Modern Political Cartoons – will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in January.

Nast – who lived from 1840 to 1902 – is best known for inventing the symbols of the donkey and the elephant for the Democratic and Republican parties.

His sharply drawn cartoons skewered the political corruption of political bosses in New York City’s Tammany Hall. He also drew iconic images of Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly. He lived much of his life in Morristown, N.J.

Halloran teaches history at Rowland Hall – St. Mark’s School in Salt Lake City.

Studio SPJ is an series of conversations on topics of interest to journalists.

The Utah Headliners and New Jersey Pro chapters will serve as co-sponsors of the broadcast.

To listen to the program live or hear it later as a podcast, go to:

To call into the live broadcast with a question or comment, call 347-857-2441.…

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Coders and journalists, unite!

From the newly created NJ News Commons project at Montclair State, this great training opportunity:

It’s a weekend. It’s a contest. It’s a chance to be on the cutting edge of journalism. HackJersey — coders and journalists working together to tell stories using public data — is coming Jan. 25-27, 2013. Journalists, if you’ve ever wondered how amazing data visualizations and interactives like this are created, you want to be part of this weekend. You don’t need to come with programming skills; you’ll join a team with coders. This is the first hackathon in the state of New Jersey to bring the two disciplines together. Prizes include lunch with Jeff Jarvis and a tour of the New York Times R&D labs.

Cost is $10 for pros, free for students. For more info, go here.…

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