Author Archives: Alexandre Gamela

New curation tool Bundlr sets sights on ‘untangling the web’

Curation seems to be all the rage these days and lots of new tools are popping up and attracting the attention of journalists. Among them is Bundlr, a new and free tool for online curation, clipping, aggregation and sharing web content easily.

The creators behind Bundlr are two 23-year-old developers, Filipe Batista and Sérgio Santos, from Coimbra, Portugal, who are both just finishing graduate degree in informatics engineering. Their eureka moment came while thinking about how to aggregate content about a particular conference.

“After attending a great conference, we thought about ways to show how it really was to be at the event. Share photos, videos, reports and all that was being published online, in a single shareable page. But we couldn’t figure out a simple way to do it.”

So what does Bundlr really do and where does it differ from Storify and other curation tools?

“First, our tool guesses beforehand what the user wants in a webpage. In a YouTube page it’s obvious that the user wants the video, at Flickr the main image.

“Second, we do not only clip the image but all the metadata surrounding that image. For instance, publishing date, geolocation data, author, views, etc. This is true for every website we support. If a webpage is supported it means it was tailor-made to work with Bundlr so that the clipping process will be as seamless as it gets.

“Third, we don’t limit the layout inside the timeline format. We show the clips in a grid. In the future, with all that metadata we collected, we can get very creative with clip layouts.”

Bundlr wasn’t intended to be a journalism tool but journalists can take advantage of its features for their everyday work. Besides gathering different social media and online contents like photos, videos and tweets to present in a single page, it can be used privately for research and brainstorming to write articles.

“There is an information overload. New sources and mediums are emerging and specialists need to find their way through everything being published online. But we’re lacking the tools to quickly select the best we find on the web, organize and share it.”

Bundlr is in beta stage at the moment, but the next stage of the plan is to have freemium accounts with a limited number of bundles for each user. A deal has just been struck with Portuguese venture capital firm SeedCapital and the service will be releasing its public version in a few days.

Batista and Santos are open to suggestions as they launch their first version, and they’ll be analyzing the way Bundlr users interact with it and see what makes sense for them.

“We believe that skimming through all this noise, and getting to the meaningful information is one of the main challenges internet users face today.

“What do you think about “untangling the web” as our tagline?”

You can get a beta tester invitation for Bundlr at this link.

Bundlr ( ) from Bundlr on Vimeo.

Reporting for an ideal: IDL-Reporteros, investigative journalism in Peru

Independent investigative reporting projects seem to be on the rise, especially in developing nations. Gustavo Gorriti is an experienced Peruvian journalist who decided to establish an independent team of investigative journalists, with a mission to “report, investigate, uncover and publish the events and subjects that hurt the rights, property and the destiny of people“.

Peru is a democracy with a high level of corruption, and Gorriti set out to put journalism at citizens’ disposal and make the powerful accountable. The result? IDL-Reporteros. Jacqueline Fowks is part of this team and she explained to why projects like this are so important.

[JF] The audience is still expecting investigative journalism stories today, the role of the press as a watchdog has not disappeared yet. In Peru – as in most Latin American countries – newspapers publish less investigative stories every day and the investigative teams decline or vanish. As global investments increase – and as state corruption climbs to higher levels in Peru (in concessions, mining, energy and public infrastructure) – there is an urgent need to dig deeper.

Why does it take an independent enterprise to do it? Has mainstream media pulled itself out of the game?

[JF] Even though polls demonstrate that there is a massive rejection of politicians, news media do not necessarily follow, investigate and report about corruption. Investigating corruption takes a lot of time and some amount of resources: most newsrooms decide not to invest on it, some lack staff and resources. Others just do not want to make politicians and companies accountable.

IDL-Reporteros started in October 2009 with a team of two and it is backed financially by the Open Society Institute, a foundation that promotes democracy and human rights-supporting initiatives that help shaping public policies and fight corruption and rights abuses. In January 2010 the whole team was completed and now they have four reporters/writers, an administrative assistant, an IT assistant and the director.

According to Fowks, “each reporter works on two or three stories at once. Some of the themes require additional support of a colleague, especially when there is a need to update promptly. The director monitors – very closely – the progress of each story.”

There is no print edition, so all the stories are published on the website. Feedback so far on the initiative has been quite good.

“There have been important and supporting comments every time we publish a special feature story in our website. Similar comments have appeared on Twitter and on our Facebook wall. The Peruvian mass media has also echoed and covered the stories IDL-Reporteros launched,” says Fowks.

Fowks believes journalism is a cornerstone to democracy even if others feel it’s “inconvenient”: “Some public officials and public servants do not like us much, but we can’t expect to make friends in this job.”



Country: Peru


Twitter: @IDL_Reporteros

Description: Independent investigative journalism

Staff: Four reporter-writers, an administrative assistant, an IT assistant and the director.

Funding: IDL-Reporteros receives a grant from the Open Society Institute. ‘Semantic news’ and the rise of the robots

Some have said the future of journalism belongs to robots. Not the tin-made ones though, the ones that collect and organise information. At LaInformacion, that future is now.

LaInformacion looks just like any other news website, it has all the features we would expect of any other news website. And yet most of LaInformacion’s content is not sourced by a team of diligent scribblers but by machines. Mario Tascón, head of LaInformacion’s parent company Diximedia, explains how it’s done:

From 12:00 am until 6:30am the editor in chief is an algorithm that selects and organises the news that we get. It analyzes social network and search engine trends in real time. It’s a less expensive way to maintain a website during certain periods, and if you can’t notice it, it’s because it doesn’t work that bad.

According to Tascón the algorithm produces a huge amount of information: “More than 5,000 stories get into the system every day, including videos, texts and infographics.” That’s five times more than, the second most read news website in Spain. A substantial part of that content isn’t generated in their newsroom but sourced from a network of partners: websites specialising in sports, technology, international affairs, etc. And since the source material is monitored in real time, they don’t have to worry about breaking news.

LaInformacion has a great technological frame that lists thousands of news stories in real time, so our approach to ‘breaking news’ uses far fewer resources than the traditional media. Breaking news is analyzed by the machines, using ‘semantic intelligence’. With that part of the job in the hands of the algorithms, journalistic resources are dedicated to researching elaborate stories and providing them with added value, and to experimenting with new narratives and different techniques.

Though it’s only been officially out of the beta phase since September, LaInformacion has already established a solid audience. According to Nielsen’s ratings, the site had 1.6 million users in December., which came top of the list, had 6 million. Asked how he felt about the paywall model, something he worked with whilst running, Tascón’s answer was quite simple: “[Pay walls] are not going to work for those who want to develop the business. If the main goal is to protect print, let them shut down their websites, but they will kill their brands by doing so.”

If he’s right, the initial investment of 26 million Euros  (22.5 million pounds) will be covered by the enterprise’s fourth year. In an environment where the market and the technology are developing faster than any model has time to establish itself, what are the next steps for Lainformacion then?

“To be fast and focus on what we know how to do best. As for the rest, associate with those who do it well.”

LaInformacion's trinity: users, robots and pros

Director of digital newspaper resigns two months after first edition

In a move that caused surprise among the Spanish publishing market, Arcadi Espada, director of the new digital newspaper, resigned yesterday only two months after the first edition went live.

Espada was deeply involved in the development of, and there are doubts about the future of the newspaper, which was thought of by some as the director’s personal project. His final editorial blames differences between the management strategy and his own perspective on the project for his departure.

“Everyone who invests his money in a business has the right to exert some control over it. In the same way I also have to protect the direction of a journalistic model which I’ve worked on for the last two years. Because of that time, Factual can’t really be considered a brief personal experiment.”

His newsroom deputy Cristina Fallaras followed suit soon after his resignation.

The publication’s management team have announced Juan Carlos Girauta as the new director, and assured staff that it will take into account the efforts of all who worked for the digital newspaper. Changes are already underway however and it seems likely that the majority of the newsroom staff will be laid off in order to accommodate to the new director’s team.

Today staff members were unable to go about their work as usual after login details and passwords were reportedly changed in the administration system. One member of staff said that they were waiting for more information on the situation, and that no one was really in charge: “They asked us to work today and tomorrow but it’s a bit strange, when you know you’re going to be fired, to work in the meantime.” offered readers a different approach to digital layout, and charged for part of their online content with a €50 yearly subscription.

Twenty people currently work for across two newsrooms, one in Barcelona and one in Madrid from Alex Gamela on Vimeo.