Hearst Newspapers is creating 14 new data journalism jobs as it seeks to improve its local news services across the United States.
Many local newsgroup chains have been forced to make significant cuts over the past year as the journalism industry has been battered by the Covid-19 crisis.
And while Hearst has not been immune from this trend – reportedly offering voluntary buyouts to staff in San Francisco and Houston – it has continued to invest in data journalism.
Over the past year, despite coronavirus troubles, the publisher has expanded its Central Interactive Team – known internally as DevHub – to eight developers and product managers working out of the San Francisco Chronicle’s newsroom.
Tim O’Rourke, the Chronicle’s director of strategy who heads up the team, told Press Gazette: “The DevHub sprang from a 2020 Hearst initiative to build audience teams in the markets and a central team to create major projects and interactive templates and workflows that could be replicated across markets to spotlight digital storytelling and interactive journalism.”
From its California base, the team works with Hearst newsrooms across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and Albany Times-Union.
The team has helped develop trackers for storms in Texas, wildfires in California and Covid-19 cases and vaccines in different markets. O’Rourke said the external tools his team use most often include Mental Canvas, Datawrapper and Mapbox.
Now, as part of a second wave of investment, Hearst is this year recruiting 14 new data journalism jobs – five in San Francisco, five in Texas and four in the northeast region, where it has newsrooms in Connecticut and Albany. Several of the positions have now been filled.
O’Rourke explained: “We wanted to have data teams closer to home just because of the nature of local news. It felt like there was a lot of opportunity to upgrade the level of data journalism in each of the markets, including San Francisco.”
He added: “The way we see this working out is once we get these data teams in place, you’re going to have synergy on the big projects with the central developers working with the local data teams to work on these big projects while the data teams are working on the more daily, weekly-type stories that have interactive charts and graphics.”
A division of the wider Hearst group, Hearst Newspapers has more than 3,000 employees across the United States. It publishes 24 dailies, 52 weeklies and dozens of local news sites.
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