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Tool of the week for journalists: Tableau Public, for data visualisations

Tool of the week: Tableau Public

What is it? A data visualisations tool, allowing you to create interactive graphs, charts and maps.

How is it of use to journalists? Tableau Public is a free tool that allows journalists to upload an Excel spreadsheet or text file and turn the data into an interactive visualisation that you can embed on your news site or blog.

Here are five examples of how Tableau has been used by news sites to tell stories. A quick browse will give you a sense of how the tool can be used to explain news stories.

One of Tableau’s real strengths is providing the reader with the opportunity to move a slider or select a drop down and see how the visualisation alters when a variable changes.

In order to create a visualisation you will need a PC (or a Windows environment on your Mac) and to download the free software.

I was able to upload an Excel file and within less than two minutes had produced a map showing what are predicted to be the most-populous countries in 2100.

I had previously used this data set to create a visualisation in Google Fusion Tables and Tableau was equally easy to navigate.

For those who have not tried creating data visualisations, Tableau requires no technical ability and is easier to use than the wizard options that allow you to create graphs in Excel.

There are options for sorting and reordering data, plus changing the colours and view options.

Tableau also has a paid-for option. The difference between the free tool and the premium option is that Tableau Public requires you to publish your visualisation to the web.

Tableau launched version 7.0 a couple of weeks ago and will soon be adding functionality allowing you to create a map using UK postcodes, according to Ross Perez, data analyst at the US-based company.

Disclaimer: Tableau Public is a sponsor of the Journalism.co.uk-organised conference news:rewired. This relationship did not influence this review.

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Media release: The Scotsman launches £7.99-a-month iPad app

January 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Mobile

The Scotsman is today launching a £7.99-a-month iPad app.

The app, which will be free for the first 30 days, is aimed “to appeal to regular readers, subscribers and scotsman.com users, and offers the opportunity to grow readership amongst iPad users, business travellers, sports fans, expat Scots and commuters”, according to a release.

The Johnston Press-owned title added in the release that this is “Scotland’s first dedicated multimedia news iPad app”.

John McLellan, Scotsman Publications’ editor-in-chief, said in a statement:

This is a major development which keeps the Scotsman up to speed with the latest media technology. Devices such as the iPad will play an increasingly dominant part in the way people access information and this is one of the most important steps forward in the Scotsman’s 200-year history.

It is a very different experience to reading online and having been at the forefront of that newspaper revolution over ten years ago it is fitting that we are in the midst of this one.

Scotsman Publications’ managing director Andrew Richardson, added:

The Scotsman app offers the best of both worlds, giving readers the choice of either leafing through the pages of The Scotsman newspaper or of reading the content in a digital format, with live news, video and enhanced use of photographs. Either choice provides a great new way to keep in touch and up-to-date

The app is sponsored by train company East Coast for the first four months.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – use iPiccy for preparing images for the web

If you usually crop, resize, fix and add borders to images using Photoshop, there is a free web app you should know about.

iPiccy is a web app available in the Chrome store that will help you perform basic image edits.

It will save you from launching Photoshop and is worth remembering when you find yourself working on a computer without an image editing application.

Click this link for 10 free Chrome web apps that journalists should know about.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#MozFest: Six lessons for journalists from the Mozilla Festival

The Mozilla Festival took place this weekend and provided journalists, open web developers and educators with a place to learn and to build.

Here are six tips from the festival, which was called media, freedom and the web.

1. In less than a week there will be a Data Journalism Handbook. Created in 48 hours with contributions from 55 people, the first draft was written at the festival and is due to be published next week. The book provides journalists the chance to get to grips and to learn from some of the key data journalists in the UK and abroad.

2. Journalists can now create web native, social video using Popcorn Maker. Take a video and add web content including tweets, Flickr photos and Google Street View images. This is a hugely exciting development in online video journalism.

3. Expect exciting developments in HTML5 news web apps. Developer Max Ogden presented a live web app in the final show tell which added photos tweeted by the audience with hashtag #MozFest. In real-time the images appeared in the app displayed on a large screen. This type of app has huge potential for news sites and user-generated content.

4. SMS may not seem like cutting edge technology but should not be ignored when it comes to engaging with the audience. Text messages can be automatically sent to Google Fusion Tables and uploaded manually or posted to a map in real-time. Here is an example where the company Mobile Commons enabled San Francisco public radio to map listeners’ earthquake readiness.

5. It will be worth keeping an eye on the five Knight-Mozilla technology fellows being placed in newsrooms at Al Jazeera English, the Guardian, the BBC, Zeit Online and the Boston Globe to see what is produced. Each news organisation selected an individual based on an area of journalism they wanted to develop. The five will now be embedded in the different newsrooms and tasked with bridging the gap between technology and the news.

6. Want to get to grips with HTML5 for journalists? Do you want to start coding but don’t know where to begin? The w3schools site offers guides to HTML, HTML5, CSS, PHP, Javascript. If you want to start scraping data then ScraperWiki, which allows you to scrape and link data using Ruby, Python and PHP scripts, has some hugely useful tutorials. If you simply want to take a look to see how HTML actually works within a webpage then Hackasaurus has an x-ray goggles tool to allow you to do just that.

There were several sessions, including on WordPress, trusting news sources, tools for a multilingual newsroom, online discussions, text edit for audio and real-time reporting, which were were unable to attend. Search for the #MozFest hashtag for further reports from the festival.

Photo by mozillaeu on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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Independent launches site redesign and new iPad app

The Independent has today launched a revamp of its website, the same day as it released a new iPad app .

The site redesign follows a makeover of the layout of the print edition of the paper and a new masthead and also takes place in the same month the Independent launched a metered paywall outside the UK.

Martin King, editor of Independent.co.uk, explains the changes to the site in a post:

  • We have introduced greater flexibility in our use of images. This not only means a homepage and channel pages that can better reflect the variance of our daily coverage, but also a more dynamic use of images in articles.
  • There is a smoother and more flexible integration of video that better matches the YouTube and 24-hour TV world.
  • There are clearer ways to express yourself – comment on an article, share it with your Facebook friends or Tweet your view about it.
  • Meanwhile Jack Riley, our head of digital development, has devised some further advances. These include: a new tagging system for the site; dynamic pages for all of our writers; and a more intelligent automated system for related content. We’re also extending our use of Facebook’s Open Graph to include more topic pages and all writers. His article will follow shortly.

The most recently released ABC-audited web figures show Independent.co.uk had 14,675,273 unique browsers in September.

The Independent’s new iPad app is free for an initial trial period and will then charge users £19.99 a month for access to “premium” digital content from the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

This compares to £9.99 a month for the Guardian’s new iPad app, which provides content six days a week as it excludes the Observer; £9.99 for the Times iPad edition, again providing content six days a week; and £9.99 a month for the Telegraph iPad app which, like the Independent, provides content seven days a week.

 

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Follow the Guardian Hack Day 2011

Yesterday and today, staff at the Guardian have been having a get together that sums up the kind of thing the organisation is really good at.

The Guardian Hack Day is about getting its developers in a room and getting them to build stuff, with helpful advice from staff from editorial, commercial, or anywhere I think.

Information architect Martin Belam probably describes it better:

I suppose we should explain a bit more about what a “hack day” is at the Guardian. Essentially for two working days our tech team puts aside their normal work, and gets to work on a project of their own choosing. Sometimes they will work as teams, sometimes as individuals. (And sometimes I think they have been secretly coding the things for months in advance anyway). Other people, like the design and UX team, and commercial & editorial staff, are also encouraged to take part if they can spare the time.

This is certainly not the first hack day, but they are liveblogging this one, and it makes for interesting reading. It is coming to a close now, I got sidetracked away from posting something about it yesterday, but you can still follow the day two liveblog here, and you can look back on the goings on from yesterday here.

A nice hack from someone outside the Guardian also appeared today: http://latertodayguardian.appspot.com/

Created by Chris Thorpe, who used to work for the Guardian’s Open API Platform team, it uses a Guardian JSON feed to turn the news organisation’s new experimental open newslist into a great looking column-based page, with links to reporters’ Twitter accounts and a Guardian API search to try and match the newslist to published stories.

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Independent launches bold new masthead and dumps viewspaper in makeover

October 11th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Newspapers

The Indy has a bold new masthead to celebrate its 25th birthday. It certainly sticks out among all the other papers in the shop, which can be no bad thing for the relatively low-circulation title.

The new-look paper also comes with a new typeface and headline fonts.

The other big change is that the “Viewspaper”, a pullout comment section created by recently-departed editor Simon Kelner, has been ditched.

New editor Chris Blackhurst said:

We have decided to use the occasion of the paper’s 25th birthday for a makeover. The masthead is bolder – still ‘the Independent’, complete with eagle, but now more striking and harder to miss on the news stands.

The body typeface and headline fonts we use have been made more readable. The other, main alteration is that the Viewspaper has gone. We thought long and hard about this. Viewspaper was created to draw attention to the unrivalled quality of the Independent’s commentators.

We continue to take pride in this quality. But since taking over three months ago, I’ve become aware that the Viewspaper could be something of a ghetto, to be taken out and read later – but in truth, put on one side and, during a busy day, all too often forgotten.

He added that the aim was to create a “faster, more accessible and urgent paper, one that is easily navigated and that puts you in no doubt what The Independent stands for”.

 

 

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Guardian to launch ‘reflective’ iPad app at £9.99 per month

After taking its time in development the Guardian has finally announced an iPad app, which is coming “any day now” apparently. According to editor Alan Rusbridger, the app will not focus on breaking news but be a “more reflective” read.

We’re not going to be scrambling to update it every minute or every hour. We will do that on the browser, the browser is a place to go for liveblogging and to go searching for material, but this is going to be a different kind of read, it’s going to be more reflective.

It seems like the thinking behind the app will take it away from the web browser experience and closer to what Guardian has in mind for its print edition. Although producing a static, print-like app may seem a little strange for a “digital-first” news organisation (especially one that creates a promo video for its app criticising the idea of “recreating the newspaper on the iPad”), it’s a move that makes sense in many ways. It looks at the tablet as more of a lean-back device for evenings, which research by Bit.ly and others has shown is a popular time for iPad use, something to supplement breaking news on Guardian.co.uk and via the iPhone app.

The app will be free for the first three months after launch thanks to a sponsorship deal with Channel 4, after which it will cost £9.99 per month. Six- and seven-day print subscribers will get access to the app bundled with their deal, although the app won’t include content from the Observer.

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Carbuncle Cup 2011: Media City UK is Britain’s ugliest new building

September 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Awards, Design and graphics

Media City UK, a 'crazed accumulation of development'. Photo by University of Salford on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Media City UK in Salford, the new home of parts of the BBC, has been crowned the ugliest new building in Britain in this year’s Carbuncle Cup.

The awards, run by Building Design magazine, said the building had beaten “strong competition” to take the uncoveted annual award.

With characteristic reserve, a jury of national newspaper architecture critics – Rowan Moore of the Observer, Hugh Pearman of the Sunday Times, and Jonathan Glancey of the Guardian – called the site a “crazed accumulation of development” in which “aimlessly gesticulating” buildings betray a sense of “extreme anxiety” on the part of the architects.

“One is not looking for the Gate of Honour at Gonville & Caius, but… something!”, said Moore.

Lowly commended for the award was the new Museum of Liverpool, with the runners up including the One Hyde Park Development, Newport Train Station, and Brighton’s Ebenezer Chapel. The chapel development is round the corner from Journalism.co.uk’s own offices, a marvel of understated, retro design.

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Nieman: The New York Times and the kitchen table of the future

The New York Times’ top-floor Research and Development Lab has released a demo video of its latest innovation: a kitchen table. No ordinary kitchen table obviously, it uses Microsoft’s Surface technology to produce a tabletop news consumption experience that departs from the paper’s normal design and layout and has strong social features built in.

See the full demo video below, courtesy of Nieman Journalism Lab, which has a fuller write-up on the table and the New York Times R&D Lab, and transcript of the demo.

New York Times R&D Lab: The kitchen table of the Future from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

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