"I have long felt the future of journalism is about relationships with people," says Michael Skoler, vice president of interactive for Public Radio International (PRI)--between journalists and "the people we are meant to serve," he says.
Technology and the advance of new and social media are making that relationship more and more possible, and a new Twin Cities chapter of Hacks/Hackers aims to connect two sometimes disparate groups--journalists ("hacks") and technology professionals ("hackers")--whose realms are increasingly converging.
This Friday, PRI and the tech/entrepreneur organization Minne* spearhead the kickoff of the new chapter with a free event at PRI headquarters in Downtown Minneapolis.
(Note: the event was full as of Monday, April 18.)
Hacks/Hackers is an international, multi-chapter grassroots movement "that is for hackers exploring technologies to filter and visualize information, and for journalists who use technology to find and tell stories," according to the Hacks/Hackers website
Skoler and Minne*'s Ben Edwards and Luke Francl are the key organizers. At least 125 hacks and hackers will convene with food and drink to hear NPR's Matt Thompson speak about "data overload, the twilight of news brands" and more, according to the event notice.
The chapter's early work is to form a network and trade ideas--"get together and get inspired," says Skoler. Regular events, speakers and collaborations could follow; other established chapters have held project-based events like New York City's "Great Urban Hack,"
during which nerds and newshounds teamed up to turn public information into visual displays and community resources.
Skoler, now at PRI, launched Public Insight Media at Minnesota Public Radio in 2003 to engage the audience in the news process.
"I felt like the Twin Cities is a natural place for Hacks and Hackers," says Skoler, who approached Edwards and Francl earlier this year about the tech side of the partnership. PRI has been central in organizing, hosting and supporting the new endeavor, says Skoler.
The direction of the new chapter will largely be up to the network that grows out of it.
"To play in the new media world, you need to have deep contacts," says Skoler.
Source: Michael Skoler, PRI
Writer: Jeremy Stratton