A Retrospec For The Future

OpenNews Fellows 2012. From left: Mark Boas (Al Jazeera), Cole Gillespie (Zeit Online), Nicola Hughes (The Guardian), Dan Shultz (Boston Globe), and Laurian Gridinoc (BBC)

OpenNews Fellows 2012. From left: Mark Boas (Al Jazeera), Cole Gillespie (Zeit Online), Nicola Hughes (The Guardian), Dan Shultz (Boston Globe), and Laurian Gridinoc (BBC)

As applications open for the 2015 round of OpenNews fellows, I reflect on my time and the first round of fellowships. The process was very different. We weren’t OpenNews then, we were just Knight-Mozilla fellows. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. But we made friends, immediately.

Looking back, what surprises me was how quickly we became comfortable with each other. Conversation, conferences and visits were so easy. I miss them and I miss the working dynamic, if what you could call when we got together “work”. It was so much fun.

I also recall meeting one of my best friends during my fellowship at The Guardian. She is a programmer to the core and a role model of mine.

I have met some of the subsequent fellows and they are of the same odd ball ilk. People you want in the community. People who make the community, give it the right flavour.

I was at a round table discussion recently held by Undercurrent about building diversity in the workforce. One thing that stuck with me was the power with which switching one little words changes the ethos of a company. When hiring, instead of asking yourself if the candidate will be a cultural fit you should ask if this candidate will be a cultural add.

This, I believe, is the beauty of the OpenNews programme. It does not look to fit fellows to a news partner. It looks to add to it in ways those partners do not yet realise they can gain from.

Similarly, what the fellows get from the fellowship is not a an easy fit but a brave addition to anyones life journey.

A quick word about what I’ve been up to: After finishing my fellowship at The Guardian I am now a Data Journalist at The Times & Sunday Times working full time scraping, parsing and analysing data as part of a data-driven investigative unit. We’ve had front page stories with both titles.

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