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Tool of the week for journalists – Topsy, real-time search for the social web

Tool of the week: Topsy

What is it? A search engine and analytics for the social web

How is it of use to journalists? Topsy is a really handy search tool for monitoring what is being discussed on the social web.

Search for a keyword or phrase and you will be presented with news articles, tweets, videos and photos. Search results are returned visually, so you can see icons and avatars beside the source.

What is particlularly useful is the ability to see how frequently a term is being used. For example, a search for “Knox” will return Twitter mentions, articles and videos. You can also click on “experts” to see what recognised news providers have published.

A search for “phone hacking” returns results and also shows the number of times the keyword has been used in the last hour, day, week, month and all time. You can also get these results shown on a graph, create and email alert or set up an RSS feed from a keyword.

You can carry out advanced searches, enabling you to include or exclude additional terms, languages and set a date range or drill down and search for a keyword used by a particular Twitter user.

As a journalist you can not only use Topsy to help you locate sources and monitor rumours (such as team talk by football fans), you can use it to add colour to an article or feature.

For example, you can use Topsy to tell you that interest in the “Amanda Knox” case has been such that her name has been mentioned 516 mentions in the last hour (the search was carried out at 4.30pm on Monday, 3 October), 3,804 times in the past day and 16,000 times overall.

 

 

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Freelance Unbound: ‘How the social web has changed the journalist’s working day’

November 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Multimedia

Freelance Unbound has published a video of Reed Business Information editorial development director Karl Schneider talking to journalism students at UCA Farnham about the changes in a journalist’s working day. Schneider said:

“As they [journalists] come across pieces of information, if they think it would be useful for the audience to hear it, it’s trivially easy – you can do it in seconds. If they’ve got a bit of information, why hold on to it – why wait until they’ve got five more bits and constructed it into a complete story? Why not publish the bit of information now?”

Full post at this link…

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PitchEngine: Four ingredients to newspapers’ survival

January 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Jason Kintzler sets out his suggestions to save the newspaper industry.

“The ‘internet’ didn’t kill newspapers… So, what’s hurting them? It’s those news-savvy companies with better business models and insight into the social web that are beating them to the punch.

You’re familiar with the obvious, Yahoo News, Google News and others, but it’s the newer sites like Jason Goldberg’s socialmedian that are laying the foundation for the next generation of news sharing (aka distribution).”

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Slideshow on ‘Journalists and the Social Web’

October 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism, Search

Following Colin Meek’s articles for Journalism.co.uk on how journalists can get the most out of the semantic web, below is Colin’s presentation from Saturday’s seminar in Oslo on using the social web:

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#socialweb: Web 3.0 – the social web (video)

October 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

We’re gathered here in Oslo this morning (25 October) with 20+ of Norwegian’s finest journalists to listen to addresses from investigative journalist and research skills trainer Colin Meek, Journalisten.no journalist and blogger Kristine Lowe. Colin will be talking about web 3.0 (the social web) and what it means for journalists). We’re streaming live, but you should be able to view this video later (gremlins permitting).

UPDATE: They turned the lights down so the audience could see the projection screen! Apologies for the poor quality of the video.

Watch live video from johncthompson’s channel on Justin.tv

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: using the social web seminar – #socialweb

October 23rd, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

It’s going to be a veritable Journalism.co.uk party in Oslo on Saturday: blog regular Kristine Lowe has organised a seminar on using the social web featuring our very own consulting editor and online research specialist Colin Meek, who also runs the Insite blog.

To kick off the coverage, read Colin’s feature on ‘Web 3.0: what it means for journalists’, which tackles what the semantic web is and why journalists should be paying attention to it.

Kristine will be talking about how she has used and benefitted from using ‘the social web’ as a journalist and blogger; while Colin’s talk will focus on the research opportunities and newsgathering potential of web 3.0 for journalists.

Kristine will be blogging the event and we’ll round up some of that content and Colin’s here for those of us not lucky enough to have made the trip.

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Waiting for the CAR to arrive

September 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

Earlier in the week we blogged that the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Lillehammer (GIJC) had received a little criticism for being a bit 1.0 in its coverage.  But if its partcipants made limited use of the social web to report live from the event, the Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) contingent was out in force and here’s what they had to say.

Paul Myers, a BBC specialist in internet research, and web trainer, told Journalism.co.uk how slow CAR is in the UK.  “People pick up on the flashy stuff like Google maps, but not CAR,” Myers said.

“This is quite typical in my experience – lots of resistance when I started training journalists in using the internet at BBC in the early 90s. It has been uphill struggle to convince people to use the web,” he told us.

In an opening session, the director of computer-assisted reporting at ProPublica, Jennifer LaFleur, urged people not to be deterred by how complicated it sounds.  “Computer assisted reporting (CAR) is doing stories based on data analysis, but it’s really just working with public records,” she said.

“Don’t get intimidated by the statistics, maths or excel and access focus: these are just the tools we use to report with.”

Along with database editor Helena Bengtsson, from Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT, LaFleur highlighted several recent successful news stories that had been unearthed by using CAR.

One, an investigation into the voting patterns of Swedish EU-parliamentarians, showed that several of the most high-profile parlimentarians abstained in 50 per cent or more of cases, causing political outcry.

But, maybe journalists should leave the more high powered CAR to the IT people? No, was the blunt answer to that audience question. CAR should be par for the course, said LaFleur. “90 per cent of stories we presented here were done with Access and Excel. I am a journalist doing journalism,” she said.

“You have to interview the data as you interview a person,’ added Helena Bengtsson. “When I do a query on data… I’m asking the data as a journalist.

“There is a lot of information in the data that IT-people wouldn’t have discovered. We’re journos first, data-specialists second,” Bengtsson said.

GCIJ Lillehammer also ran classes on RSS, scraping the web, being an online ‘bloodhound’ and effective web searching.

“There are two reasons for that: we have the training expertise and see major need for training in web research and computer assisted reporting”,  Haakon Hagsbö, from SKUP (a Norwegian foundation for investigative journalism) and one of the organisers of GIJC  Lillehammer, told Journalism.co.uk.

“It has certainly been very popular at earlier conferences. People don’t know what they don’t know until they attend the training. It’s a real eyeopener, but they soon find that it’s not rocket science, as these are simple yet powerful tools. We see more and more examples of colleagues from all over the world who meet online and use the web for research.

In reponse to Isaac Mao’s comment that there had been a low take-up of live social media reporting from the conference, Haugsbö said: “We have streamed everything live online, but other than that I don’t have a good answer to this.”

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