I am not Asian nor Caucasian although I have both in me. I am not religious nor agnostic although I have lived in countries of many different faiths. I have studied across the science and art disciplines although I practice neither. I am neither journalist nor developer. I am female although I work in male-dominated areas. I have no class, race or creed. I am, however, an OpenNews Fellow.
I have for a long time been DataMinerUK. Standing alone, trying to learn the ways of the web and mine data for stories. I have preached by my stumbles and failures, and an unwavering sense that doing something different differently is the way forward in journalism. Now I am not alone and stubbornly grappling in the dark world of object oriented programming. Now I am a fellow fellow
This week you will hear from all the fellows, Mark, Cole, Laurian and Dan. So what have I got to say? A young woman of colour, trained in broadcast journalism, who had never used the command line until this year. From the very beginning I felt I had the least to offer the OpenNews programme. I never thought I would get it. I was enticed to participate by the various rounds in the competition. As a fledgling programmer, I loved hackdays. Being able to connect with those at the edge of digital journalism and those interested in the field was reward enough.
But I did win and here I am. So what have I done? I have advanced my skills beyond what I could have done on my own. I am more comfortable with the strategies of data digging and programming. I know what skills I want to add. But most of all I know I should be here and I deserve to be here. Not as Nicola Hughes or DataMinerUK but as an OpenNews fellow. And by ‘here’ I don’t mean The Guardian or the OpenNews programme. ‘Here’ is web-making, data-digging and story-building in the open.
A big part of this resolution to create, innovate and take news beyond the written word is my fellow fellows. I feel truly blessed to know such creative, talented and forward-thinking individuals. This has been a big benefit to me and one I will take beyond the fellowship.
Each fellowship will be as unique as each fellow. What will be in store for next year’s fellows is very much dependent on the news partner and the background of the fellow. As with most things, it will be what you make of it. But one thing you can depend on is meeting with like-minded individuals who want to take news further into the digital age.
So this goes out to all the doubters, all the people who don’t think they have what it takes or the right fit to apply. This goes out to all the ladies, all the new adopters of code. All the journalists, freelancers and recent graduates. The Mozilla open-web ethos is not just for hard-core developers. It’s for all of us who use the web, who could, if we so choose, be makers of the web.
It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me, so if you’re in any doubt – Go for it!