Introducing the 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows

The Knight-Mozilla Fellowships bring together developers, technologists, civic hackers, and data crunchers to spend 10 months working on open source code with partner newsrooms around the world. The Fellowships are part of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. During their fellowship year, the Fellows collaborate with journalists to build the tools news organizations need to thrive on the open web.

The 2015 cohort marks the fourth year of the Fellowships, and includes placements at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Center for Investigative Reporting, La Nación, the Guardian, Vox Media, and NPR. Our search for the 2015 fellows began in June, and sparked our biggest round of applications yet—we saw a 150% increase in applications this year, and couldn’t be more excited for this group of makers, thinkers, and teachers.

“We were overwhelmed by the volume of submissions this year–just over 400,” says Dan Sinker, director of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. “But even more than the volume was the quality: this was the hardest set of decisions we’ve had in the four years of the Fellowship.”

“This extraordinary cohort, and the news partners they’re working with, let us continue to push the model of what we think a fellowship can be and how the Knight-Mozilla Fellows can help strengthen both newsrooms and the open web,” says Sinker.

“The Knight-Mozilla Open News project continues to connect newsrooms with innovators, leading to the adoption of new tools and paving the way for open source ideas to spread,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “These new fellows will help fuel innovation in digital storytelling and better meet community information needs.”

We’re proud to announce our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR): Julia Smith
Julia Smith is a design professional from Omaha, NE. She’s held a variety of roles in journalism and IT, having worked as a designer and developer on news sites, mobile applications, enterprise software, and corporate websites. She is fascinated with civic media and loves exploring the connections between storytelling, design, and technology to create experiences that empower community change. Follow Julia on Twitter at @julia67.

The Guardian (UK): Linda Sandvik
Linda Sandvik is a creative technologist and proto-MacGyver who likes to make things that inform, educate, and empower people and communities. She previously worked in local government and at, and is a co-founder of Code Club, and her particular interests lie in using play and technology to help people discover their natural affinity for teaching themselves new things. She has a passion for open data, open knowledge, and serious games. Follow Linda on Twitter at @hyper_linda.

La Nacion (Argentina): Juan Elosua
Juan Elosua is a Spanish telecommunications engineer with broad experience in tech consultancy and financial services IT. In 2011, he discovered data journalism and became a data addict and freelance developer, and can now be found turning data upside down to extract knowledge from it. He strongly believes open data will play a key role in shaping the future of modern societies, and has trained journalists to help them find stories and work efficiently on data-related projects. Follow Juan on Twitter at @jjelosua.

New York Times/Washington Post: Francis Tseng
Francis Tseng is a programmer and interaction designer interested in natural language processing, internet socializing, demystifying technology, and systems modeling. After two years at IDEO, he became a Knight Foundation prototype grant recipient in 2014. He is currently teaching the News Automata course at the New School’s Design + Journalism program and designing and building _critical_ software with friends at Public Science. Follow Francis on Twitter at @frnsys.

New York Times/Washington Post: Tara Adiseshan
Tara Adiseshan is a designer and data visualization engineer who is excited about civic media, learning tools, and community platforms. From designing search futures at Autodesk to conducting user research around rainwater harvesting in rural India, Tara has had the opportunity to apply design methodologies and build solutions in a variety of disciplinary spaces. Tara believes that access to and understanding of information and data can be a key leverage point through which social systems change. Follow Tara on Twitter at @taraandtheworld.

NPR: Livia Labate
Livia Labate is a user experience designer and manager with a passion for in-house practice development. Livia is interested in how open source tools empower news creation and dissemination, and shape access to information and social participation. With over 15 years of industry experience, she has worked with large organizations such as Comcast and the BBC as well as heavily contributing to the development of the Information Architecture community of practice through the IA Institute. More recently, Livia has led Marriott’s Digital Standards and Practices group, focusing on stewardship and governance of digital experiences. Follow Livia at @livlab.

Our seventh fellow, who will be placed with Vox Media, will be announced later this year.

About OpenNews:
OpenNews is a partnership between the Knight Foundation and Mozilla to harness open web innovation for journalism. We believe a community of peers working, learning and solving problems together can create the tools journalism needs to thrive on the open web. Our fellowship program embeds developers in newsrooms around the world to develop new tools, ideas, and news experiences that benefit both readers and news organizations.

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