"When I first attended the annual conference of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) in 2012, it was as a speaker," writes Alexander Howard, a Tow Fellow at Columbia Journalism School's center for digital journalism innovation.
"I was there to give a short talk about new data coming from the open governent movement. While it went well, and, somewhat remarkably, the presentation I used has over 10,000 views on Slideshare, I feel somewhat embarrassed about it in retrospect, given what I have learned about the NICAR community in 2012 and in the years since. This tribe of journalists are the best at using technology to support investigative journalism in the United States. They know, perhaps better than anyone else in the country, exactly how much data is available, where and of what quality and format. I figured out quite quickly that I’d be learning far more from them than the inverse."
Howard goes on to write about his time at the recent CAR Conference, highlighting five themes he identified in the sessions.
"What I found at the Inner Harbor Marriott was even more breathtaking than the huge crabcake I devoured at lunch at Feidley’s, up in Lexington Market: nearly a thousand data journalists from 20 countries gathered to network, teach and learn from one another. The NICAR conference has more than tripled in size since 2009.
As in 2012, I left feeling exhilarated, even though I couldn’t attend all four days of the conference. Everywhere I looked, there were journalists talking about how they had used tools, applied programming, told better stories, made platforms, or teaching others to do those things. Instead of chewing over the future of news, they were building it. The conference is unquestionably the best forum in the world to tap into the zeitgeist around data journalism and learn from people practicing it at all levels."