Dan Schultz joins Newshouse as First Visiting Programmer in Residence

As digital technology becomes increasingly important to media and journalism, so does knowing how to work with programmers and perform simple coding. You can only learn these skills by doing them, but where does a journalist or storyteller start?

Programmer-journalist Dan Schultz, who holds a degree from the MIT Media Lab, will help answer that question when he joins the Newhouse School as its first Visiting Programmer in Residence. Schultz, who spoke at Newhouse through the Digtial Edge Journalism series in the spring, comes straight from the Boston Globe, where he spent a year as a Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellow. He is known for work on innovative projects such as Truth Goggles, which identifies and checks facts in news stories in real time, and NewsJack, which lets people rewrite and publish headlines as a form of digital satire.

At The Boston Globe, Schultz worked with the Globe Labs to employ new innovative ways to tell stories that go beyond text, photos and video. In A Night in the Life of a Cabbie, he connected detailed transcripts of a cab driver’s evening shift to a maps that shows the driver’s pay and expenses through the night. The interactive shows how difficult it is for cab drivers to make money when only a few companies can issue the expensive “medallions” that cab drivers must purchase in order to legally provide service. Interative features like this often require journalists to work closely with software developers, and even know a little code themselves. Programmers in residence like Schultz will give Newhouse students that critical experience.

“Dan will help Newhouse students take their ideas from the drawing board to working prototypes and more,” says Dean Lorraine Branham. “We also hope that he can provide technical assistance for students who have ideas for new products, but lack the programming and coding skills to make them happen.”

While Schultz’s background is in journalism and civic media, he will work with students from all majors. Newhouse Chair of Journalism Innovation Dan Pacheco will serve as Schultz’s host in the Newspaper and Online Journalism department. Students or faculty who are interested in working with Schultz should fill out this online form, or contact Pacheco at drpachec@syr.edu.

“We already have a list of student project ideas from faculty from across the school that can leverage Dan’s expertise,” says Pacheco. “But it will be really fun to see what students dream up that none of us have thought of yet. We know students have big digital ideas, but often get stuck when they want to do something that requires a little coding. Now we can help them cross that barrier and in the process learn that coding isn’t as mysterious or scary as they may think.”

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