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London riots: Five ways journalists used online tools

Since riots started in London on Saturday, 6 August, journalists – and many non-journalists, who may or may not think of themselves as citizen reporters – have been using a variety of online tools to tell the story of the riots and subsequent cleanup operation.

Here are five examples:

1. Maps

James Cridland, who is managing director of Media UK, created a Google Map – which has had more than 25,000 views.

Writing on his blog (which is well worth a read), Cridland explains how and why he verified the locations of riots before manually adding reports of unrest to his map one by one.

I realised that, in order for this map to be useful, every entry needed to be verified, and verifiable for others, too. For every report, I searched Google News, Twitter, and major news sites to try and establish some sort of verification. My criteria was that something had to be reported by an established news organisation (BBC, Sky, local newspapers) or by multiple people on Twitter in different ways.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, he explained there was much rumour and many unsubstantiated reports on Twitter, particularly about Manchester where police responded by repeatedly announcing they had not had reports of copycat riots.

A lot of people don’t know how to check and verify. It just shows that the editor’s job is still a very safe one.

Hannah Waldram, who is community co-ordinator at the Guardian, “used Yahoo Pipes, co-location community tools and Google Maps to create a map showing tweets generated from postcode areas in London during the riots”. A post on the OUseful blog explains exactly how this is done.

Waldram told Journalism.co.uk how the map she created last night works:

The map picks up on geotagged tweets using the #Londonriots hashtag in a five km radium around four post code areas in London where reports of rioting were coming in.

It effectively gives a snapshot of tweets coming from a certain area at a certain time – some of the tweets from people at home watching the news and some appearing to be eyewitness reports of the action unfolding.

2. Video

Between gripping live reporting on Sky News, reporter Mark Stone uploaded footage from riots in Clapham to YouTube (which seems to have inspired a Facebook campaign to make him prime minister).

3. Blogs

Tumblr has been used to report the Birmingham riots, including photos and a statement from West Midlands Police with the ‘ask a question’ function being put to hugely effective use.

4. Curation tools

Curation tools such as Storify, used to great effect here by Joseph Stashko to report on Lewisham; Storyful, used here to tell the story of the cleanup; Bundlr used here to report the Birmingham riots, and Chirpstory, used here to show tweets on the unravelling Tottenham riots, have been used to curate photos, tweets, maps and videos.

5. Timelines

Channel 4 News has this (Flash) timeline, clearly showing when the riots were first reported and how unrest spread. Free tools such as Dipity and Google Fusion Tables (see our how to: use Google Fusion Tables guide) can be used to create linear (rather than mapped) timelines.

If you have seen any impressive interactive and innovative coverage of the riots please add a link to the comments below.

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Some news outlets are reporting that today will see the biggest day of industrial action for 30 years. But the news landscape and tools used in reporting the strikes are a world away from the 1980s.

Here is a quick round-up to inspire ideas for coverage.

The nationals are providing an overview and inspiring debate, but many readers will be turning to local news sites to find out which schools are closed and which services disrupted.

  • A simple list is perhaps the most accessible way of accessing information, as created by hyperlocal Uckfield News;

For more tools and guidance on how to use Storify, Audioboo, OpenHeatMap, Many Eyes and Qik, check out this guide to livening up local election reporting.

For ideas in adding audio, follow these 10 tips.

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Hundreds of suggestions and countless tweets later and we have finalised our PeerIndex list of the most influential UK journalists.

We have used PeerIndex, which ranks social capital. It does this by algorithmically mapping social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

We decided to go one step further and put the list of top journalists into Klout, which also ranks by overall online influence. Klout only allows 10 names in a list so we entered the top 10 names in our PeerIndex list. Klout has reordered them. You’ll will need to sign in with Klout to see this link (no embeddable code so a screen grab instead).

Klout top 10

Azeem Azhar, founder of PeerIndex (and formerly of the Guardian and the Economist) explains that PeerIndex calculates social capital using “maths very similar to that which Google uses to calculate its page rank”.

“And the thing that we like most about it is that it’s driven by what other people say abut you rather that what you say about yourself.”

You can hear more from Azhar, including why technology correspondents tend to get a higher ranking than fashion or politics correspondents, below.

Listen!

Our PeerIndex top 100 list certainly had some response. Here is a Chirpstory highlighting some of the tweets.

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