Shane Shifflett (MSJ10), a Knight Foundation scholarship recipient, is a data reporter for the Huffington Post.
Shifflet’s journalism career has drawn from his experience as a full-time computer programmer before coming to Medill and data collection skills. Prior to working at HuffPo, he worked as a news apps developed for The Bay Citizen, a San Francisco-based online news organization, and as a data engineer and reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting.
At The Bay Citizen, Shifflet said one of the biggest projects he helped develop was a voting simulation of the San Francisco mayoral election, which let users view information about more than 10 candidates and choose their own preferred mayor through a process of elimination. The application included a heavy-emphasis on data collection, most specifically a database of candidates’ sponsors and how much they donated to the campaigns.
“We used it as a source for stories,” Shifflett said. “With the campaign database we wrote two or three stories nobody else could break.”
Shifflet said he decided to try journalism because he wanted to do something “fun and exciting.”
“I remember being on the north side of Chicago, in the middle of winter, freezing and never having tried to go out on the street, tap someone on the shoulder, and ask about their reaction to something,” Shifflett said. “It was incredibly overwhelming, but also incredibly thrilling once the story was written and filed and I got addicted to it.”
Although he spends most of his time now developing news apps, Shifflett said he still makes a point of doing some reporting.
“Every month or week I have a personal deadline where I want to be able to write a story,” Shifflett said. “It’s not part of my job, but everybody indulges me.”