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Tool of the week for journalists – Greplin, to search your private files and profiles

Tool of the week: Greplin

What is it? A private search engine for your personal files and social media accounts

How is it of use to journalists? Greplin allows you to search your Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Dropbox accounts in the same way as you would use Google to search the web.

Recommended by Amy Webb at US journalism conference #ONA11 as “a way of sort of defragging your brain”, Greplin is a tool that can help journalists find a key piece of information in a second or two.

For example, you may be working on a story about a company or subject and have information in emails, your Dropbox account, Google Calendar and LinkedIn. One search in Greplin will allow you to surface the source documents and references to the company or topic.

The basic subscription is free and includes those accounts listed above. You can unlock services such as Delicious by tweeting about Greplin, and there are some services, such as Evernote, only available with Greplin Premium.

There is a free iPhone app and also a browser extension for Chrome, which is well worth adding. This enables you to search your files simply by prefixing your query with a “g”.

 

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Guardian iPad app downloaded nearly 150,000 times in first week

October 21st, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Traffic

The Guardian’s new iPad app has been downloaded 145,880 times since it was launched last Thursday (13 October), with more than a third of those from outside the UK.

The app is free for the first three months due to a sponsorship deal with Channel 4, after which it will cost £9.99 per month.

The Guardian also today revealed that just over a million Facebook users have installed the Guardian’s Facebook app, which was released exactly a month ago.

Since its launch at the beginning of the year, the Guardian’s iPhone app has been downloaded over half a million times; its Android app, which was launched last month, has been downloaded over a quarter of a million times.

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said in a statement:

Since launching last week, the new Guardian iPad edition has already been downloaded over 145,000 times. This number of downloads in a week is a fantastic achievement, and shows the appetite among our readers to access our content in new, digital ways. This is our most successful app launch to date, and an important milestone as we continue to evolve into a digital-first news organisation.

Statistics breakdown

iPad app downloads
Total: 145,880
UK: 85,018
US: 29,082
Res of the wold: 31,780

Guardian iPhone app
Since launching in January this year, the app has been downloaded over 570,000 times, with nearly 100,000 users going on to take out subscriptions.

Guardian Android app
This launched last month, on 7 September, and since then the app – which is free and ad-funded – has been downloaded over 250,000 times.

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Paperboy app: Take a photo of newspaper article to find the digital edition

An app which uses image recognition technology to allow a reader to take a photo of a newspaper or magazine story on an iPhone or Android phone and use it to search for the digital article will be launched for UK titles next month.

Kooaba, the company behind the Paperboy app, has partnered with NewspaperDirect to enable print to digital linking for 2,000 titles worldwide. Around 50 UK titles are available digitally via NewspaperDirect and are therefore likely to be the publications available via the app. The full list includes the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Daily Mail, plus regional newspapers such as the Kentish Gazette, Birmingham Mail and Evening Standard.

In addition to taking a photo on a phone and using image recognition on the text to find the digital article, newspapers can also print a link which app users can snap to lead them to additional multimedia content, such as video.

The roll-out of the ability to find digital from print using the Paperboy app has started with this list of newspapers based in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is planning add UK titles in November.

The Kooaba blog explains how the technology works.

Paperboy connects printed media to the digital world with one click: All the application’s powerful image recognition technology needs is a photo taken by a smartphone camera of an article or page in a newspaper or magazine. Paperboy then matches the photo to the images in Kooaba’s sizeable library of printed media or identifies that page or article from NewspaperDirect’s inventory of over 2,000 same-day, digital newspapers replicas. Users can then share, email or archive the electronic version on the go, anywhere, anytime or explore related information like videos, images or links to selected topics. Paperboy automatically finds URLs on pages of print publications. In some publications, exclusive Paperboy content is for pages with the Shutter icon.

This video gives examples of how readers could find it useful, such as taking a photo of a recipe to locate the digital version, which could then be saved to Evernote or shared via Twitter.

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Five tips from a radio journalist who reports solely from an iPhone and iPad

September 28th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Mobile

For the past 18 months Neal Augenstein, a reporter with Washington DC’s all news radio station WTOP, has carried out all his field reporting from his iPhone and iPad.

Like many radio reporters Augenstein is also shooting and editing video, taking photos and tweeting from the scene of news stories he covers. All the audio, video, audio, photos and scripts he produces are created and edited on his two devices.

A year and a half in, we spoke to him to find out how he is finding the experience. He said he finds the iPhone more valuable than the iPad and tends to produce his live and pre-recorded audio reports on his phone, but writes scripts on his tablet.

Asked how it has changed his job, Augenstein told Journalism.co.uk:

It’s certainly made things a lot easier for me in terms of being able to put my laptop away and all the heavy equipment such as the cables, microphones, recorders, all the cameras that I was using.

There are some challenges to that, for instance, how do you put an iPhone on a podium for a news conference?

Another hurdle he has had to overcome is how to cope with the iPhone being susceptible to wind noise.

So what are his tips on apps and techniques for this form of reporting?

1. 1st Video – Augenstein uses this video recording and editing app for both his video and audio work. It allows multitrack editing and sharing but those familiar with PC or Mac audio and video editing will need to learn a few new swipes and pinches. Here is Journalism.co.uk’s guide on how to shoot and edit video using this app.

2. Ustream – He uses Ustream for livestreaming video, often in breaking news situations. Other app options for free livestreaming include Bambuser and Qik.

3. Skype is used by Augenstein for live reporting, rather than a phone line. He says he finds Skype “a robust way to communicate for a live report”.

One of our goals is the elimination of cell phone-quality recordings from our broadcasts.

Another recommendation from Augenstein was to take the audio from a live video stream, although you cannot have a two-way interview, between the reporter and studio presenter (although you could perhaps do this if you had two phones, one to livestream from and one to listen to the presenter, or if you have a radio to hear the station output, providing there was no delay in transmission).

4. Camera Plus – The WTOP reporter uses this app, also available for Android and BlackBerry, to tweak and edit photos.

5. Spend wisely. Augenstein uses the iPhone’s built in microphone.

There are ways you can plug in other microphones but my goal is trying to minimise the amount of accessories that I need.

As for setting up shots, Augenstein has got a Gorilla iPhone tripod, but opts for handheld shooting for video.

As a radio station our video does tend to be rather rudimentary. Getting a steady shot is important but our web videos are generally not produced, voicetracked packages. What we’re trying to do is work on the synergy between the on air product and the website and the social. If the radio report has sound bites of a person speaking, the website and the video is supposed to complement rather than duplicate what is in the report.

He has looked into the services provided by two companies, Tieline and Comrex, which allow you to broadcast live from a phone. Both options require relatively expensive kit to allow the audio to input via a channel on the radio mixing desk.

I have found, unfortunately, to this point that getting a good connection is difficult. Wifi is always a better-sounding connection than 3G or 4G and in breaking news situations you often don’t have optimal situations.

Since he locked away his cables, cameras and microphones in February 2010, Augenstein has seen his report turn around time decrease.

What used to take 30 minutes to create a fully-produced report I can now do in 10 minutes.

The sound quality is probably is only 92 per cent as good as broadcast-quality equipment, that’s the number I’ve been estimating, but as it can be tweaked and goes through processing at the radio station, people really can’t tell the difference.

And the most beneficial part of his 18-month iPhone and iPad trial?

It’s a chance to re-think the newsgathering process, which to me is the most exciting part about it.

  • Sign up to attend Journalism.co.uk’s one-day training course in using a mobile for reporting, which is being held in London on 4 November 2011.
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Economist launches World in Figures iPhone app

The Economist has launched an iPhone and iPod app based on its World in Figures book, which is published annually.

The World in Figures app, which costs 69 pence, has data on 190 countries.

It is of use to journalists who need to access country stats, and of interest to a much wider audience, despite some of the data being a little old.

The app includes ‘ranking topics’, with stats on daily newspapers per country and press freedom. Data – whether it be cinema visits, Oscar-winning films, aid donors, or stats on disease – can be shared by email or posted to Facebook.

  

There are also a series of trivia flashcards, which can also be shared by Twitter.

 

Last month, the Economist released figures to say its news iPhone and iPad apps had been downloaded two million times.

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Channel 4 News to launch iPhone and iPad app

July 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Mobile, Multimedia

Channel 4 News is to launch a new iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch app on Friday. Developers are currently working on an Android version.

The free app allows users to watch catch-up videos for seven days. Content can be accessed via a 3G or wifi connection and can be viewed when devices are offline.

You can see Jon Snow promoting the app in this video:

According to a release, the new app will carry the most popular website features – including Jon Snow’s daily Snowblog.

The app will allow users to access the latest top domestic and international news stories, plus the most important news from the worlds of politics, science and technology, business and culture from the Channel 4 News team of correspondents and reporters; all the Channel 4 News blogs, including Cathy Newman’s FactCheck and the World News Blog; special reports and galleries (iPad only); and to watch video of the last seven days from the Channel 4 News at 7pm and noon programmes.

The app will allow users to share all of this content through social media and email.

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Citizen journalism platform Blottr launches iPhone app

User generated news service Blottr has launched an iPhone app called Paparappzi. It is to follow with the release of an app for Android devices next week.

The app is designed to encourage people to submit news stories covering their local communities. Its challenge now is to encourage people to upload and share news.

Blottr, which launched in August, focuses on seven cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester.

Paparappzi has an intuitive design, allowing users to write a short news item, add a photo and a geolocation and submit it to Blottr.

Similar to recently-launched app Meporter, Blottr’s offering differs in that it comes out of the UK rather than the US. The UK company raised £1m investment in May.

Founder Adam Baker said in a release:

The Blottr app has the potential to fundamentally change the way news is gathered and reported. The UK has the highest number of smartphone users in Europe at 11m, and growing.

Over time, we hope a high preponderance of smartphone users will be using the Blottr app to report news they are witnessing from the scene.

Baker added: “We hope this will be the catalyst for millions of ordinary people to become citizen journalists and through our app, we expect to create a powerful network of people and content that will transform the ability to break news as it happens.”

Jon Anthony, leading the build, said: “One of the biggest challenges we faced when architecting the app was enabling real-time integration with our CMS. The app integrates fully with the user layer of our CMS, allowing stories to be posted directly to the site and viewed straight away on both mobile and web.”

Live video streaming will be introduced in the coming months.

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Paywall rises on FT’s ‘flexible’ iPad and iPhone web app

The Financial Times paywall will go up on its new web-based app this week, which has so far reported encouraging stats with 150,000 hits during the first 10 days, during which time users have not been required to login.

“We’re seeing a strong conversion from the existing subscriber base who are using the iPad app and we’re also seeing a large cohort of new users as well,” Steve Pinches, group product manager for FT.com told Journalism.co.uk.

The new web-based iPad and iPhone app was launched on 7 June and is downloaded by the user clicking on the URL app.ft.com. It has received a great deal of attention from media organisations considering investing in native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps.

Advantages of web-based apps include flexibility: HTML5, the language the FT app is written in, has the potential to be used across different devices, reducing the cost and time spent in developing separate apps in different languages. The new web app bypasses Apple’s App Store and therefore avoids the FT losing a 30 per cent cut.

Pinches explained the FT will be prioritising development of the web-based app. Indeed the home screen to the new app states the FT is “encouraging our readers to switch immediately to the new FT web app”.

“It’s not that we are diametrically opposed to being in apps stores. It’s just that it makes a lot more sense for us to develop things in a web-based framework,” Pinches said.

“We have a business model that we’ve spent a lot of time investing in, which we feel is great for users because it gives them access across multiple platforms and whenever we evaluate any channel, we have to make sure it meets the basic criteria for us to be able to run our business as we do.”

As the web app can be used by both iPhones and iPads, it is easier to maintain than two separate natives. It also offers various new features for iPhone users, including video and images, which were not available in the native iPhone app.

Asked if there will be a point when they will remove the native from the App Store, Pinches said: “We’re still in discussions with Apple and that’s being handled by our MD”, and described talks as “amicable”.

Unlike the iPad app which was built by a company in Colorado called Wall Street On Demand, the new app was built by London-based Assanka, which also built the FT’s Android app, predominantly using HTML5.

“They built the Android app, that was their first HTML5 app so it’s been a pretty steep learning curve.”

“The next plan is to roll that code out into the big screen Android, the small screen Android, the [BlackBerry] PlayBook and webOS,” Pinches said.

That may manifest itself as a web-based app compatible with other platforms or more native apps, Pinches explained.

“We always want to keep the two options open: being able to launch as a web app or a native app or both.”

Related content:

FT looks to bypass Apple charges with new web-based iPad app

Nearly half of FT online subscribers accessing content via mobile

 

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Location-based iPhone app Meporter building up reporting base

Meporter is a location-based iPhone app for reporting local news by sharing geolocated text, photos and videos.

It is just three weeks old and this week is launching a social media and advertising campaign to gather the critical mass of reporters – or Meporters, as they are known – needed to make the start-up a success.

Meporter was launched at TechCrunch‘s Disrupt 2011, a technology competition in New York, after being chosen as one of the 26 companies, out of 1,000 applicants, to be showcased.

Since then Meporter has set up in several countries, including the UK, China, Australia, Japan, Spain, Italy as well as the US, according to CEO and founder Andy Leff.

The kind of stories being reported are not just breaking news events but restaurant, theatre, festival and art reviews.

A quick check for Meporter reports for London reveal “fat lady gets arrested” in Hackney, “roadworks” in Lewisham and “sun shining in Wanstead”.

It is obvious what is needed now is an increase in the number news stories filed, plus if it is used for news gathering, journalists need to know how to verify reports coming in.

When he spoke to Journalism.co.uk Leff said he had not checked Meporter iPhone app downloads for a few days but said the number was “in the tens of thousands”.

So, how can it be used by journalists? So-called citizen journalists can report news and if enough local reporters sign up in an area, it can be used as a news gathering tool as Leff explained:

We’re actually in discussion with number of local publishers, regional publishers, national publishers and international publishers about incorporating Meporter into the news-gathering programmes.

We’ve got interest from a lot of newspapers here in the US, television broadcast companies and we have been contacted by some media publications in Germany to see how they can integrate Meporter.

What they’re saying is that they don’t have the resources or the manpower to get all the news in their local areas but they’re always having people ringing them on the phone saying “nobody’s covering the high school football game”.

News outlets are losing readers because they can’t cover everything.

That will no doubt resonate with local news organisations in the UK and the idea that they can crowdsource local news, including photos and videos, vet the incoming stories, verify them and publish is likely to be appealing.

But for this to work it will require huge take-up and the addition of an Android app, which, along with a BlackBerry app, is due to be launched soon.

Leff is now focussing on spending money to gain that critical mass.

The initial $300,000 cost of launch he gathered by “scrounging through my wallet, couch cushions, begging family and friends” and is now in further talks with investors.

A social media and advertising campaign called the Million Man Launch will see cash give-aways of $27,000 with thousands of dollars being rewarded when milestones of active users are reached.

Meporters are also being incentivised through a badge system, similar to that used by Foursquare, with users able to trade in badges for prizes gathered through sponsorship deals.

The start-up has a long way to go. According to the geolocated app there are just three Meporters in Brighton and between 20 and 30 in London. However, this is an increase from no Meporters in either city a fortnight ago.

Meporter has the potential to reopen a debate on citizen journalism. But what Meporter offers is not that far removed from how local newspapers have always used village reporters to crowdsource and gather local stories. What has changed is the reporting method and thus the demographic of the reporters.

Andy Leff CEO of Meporter, a location-based iPhone app for reporting news by journalismnews

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#mobilemedia11: Ten facts on mobile media – phones and tablets

June 14th, 2011 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Mobile

Publishers are embracing mobile technology to find new ways to enter the ever-expanding market. Speaking at today’s Mobile Media Strategies event in London, Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst at Screen Digest, listed 10 facts on what mobile means for publishers.

1. The smartphone market is only 25 per cent of the mobile market in the UK.

2. The UK is Europe’s leading market for smartphones.

3. There are 18 million smartphones in the UK. By 2015 there will be 42.9 million.

4. In 2015 there will be more Android smartphones in Europe than the total number of smartphones on the continent today.

5. Apple has a 82.5 per cent market share of apps.

6. Android’s Market will take a increased market share

7. Games account for around 50 per cent of apps downloaded from Apple’s App Store.

8. Rich media, which includes content and data revenues, account for just 2 per cent of total revenue. “But it doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. Rich media is very important for the future,” says de Renesse.

9. The introduction of tablets has affected the price of apps. The average price of a tablet app is almost double the price of a phone app therefore the average spend by the user is greater.

10. The future for publishers could lie in small, in app transactions.

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