Chris Hutchinson
Jul 21, 2015 · 3 min read

Collaborating on the future of newsroom tools

How do we give journalists easy and clear access to tools built for them? There is already an abundance of tools created to help journalists build things, from maps to charts, videos and images. But they are scattered around, hard to find and often complicated to use. There is no clear way for journalists to utilise the tools developers have built for them. (Sam Joiner)

In June 2015, a small team from The Times and Sunday Times competed in #newsHACK. That team created a concept called The Journalist Toolbox, proposing that newsroom tools needed to be more accessible for journalists, and standardised as a way of creating better journalism, levelling the playing field between large news organisations and individual journalists, while also inspiring a higher overall quality of newsroom tool.

The idea is two pronged. The first is a website that should present tools for journalists in a visually interesting way, making them easy to search, explore and use. The second is a set of underlying standards that tools for journalists should adhere to — covering design, documentation and implementation — agreed by an open community of developers and journalists that build and rely on these tools every day.

The team won the chance to collaborate on the idea with a team from the Goldsmiths Digital Journalism programme, supported by the BBC News Labs team. This is a huge cross-organisation opportunity, uniquely positioned to improve an important part of journalism in the years to come, providing reliable, easy-to-use, tailored tools for journalists, helping them to report facts, and tell better stories. The project is also a great learning opportunity, not only for the students researching and developing the idea, but for the industry as a whole, as we look to foster ongoing collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges facing us.

Over the past three weeks, 16 people from across Goldsmiths, The Times and the BBC have been working together to get the project rolling, with a goal of launching a minimum viable product in the next six weeks.

The Journalist Toolbox team

After just a few weeks the team are well underway development the website and its API, and have started to research what The Journalist Toolbox can do to help journalists and newsrooms.

Over the coming weeks, various members of the team will be writing about their experiences during this cross-organisation collaboration, the technology being used to build the app, and we’ll be publishing more about our research findings.

We’ll also be writing about the features and functionality you can expect see in the initial release, and how you can contribute to the ongoing development of the project, our research, and the community we’ll be looking to build.

Follow The Journalist Toolbox publication on Medium for the latest writing from the team, and find all the code on our GitHub account.

The Journalist Toolbox

Goldsmiths × The Times × BBC News Labs

Chris Hutchinson

Written by

Senior Newsroom Developer at The Times & The Sunday Times.

The Journalist Toolbox

Goldsmiths × The Times × BBC News Labs

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