Tag Archives: 10000 Words

Tool of the week for journalists – ProPublica’s TimelineSetter

Tool of the week: ProPublica’s TimelineSetter

What is it? A tool for creating beautiful interactive timelines.

How is it of use to journalists? Having spent time developing a timeline tool, US investigative journalism news site ProPublica has made the code available for others to use, enabling journalists to build interactive timelines from a spreadsheet.

ProPublica’s timeline on how one blast affected five soldiers is a clear demonstration as to just how effective the tool can be in online storytelling.

The LA Times and Chicago Tribune are among those who have utilised the open source software since it was made public in April 2011.

TimelineSetter is not for the technology shy, however. Non-coders should not let this introduction to the tool put them off and should instead try watching the two videos embedded below and test out the technology.

Let us know at @journalismnews if you build and publish a timeline using ProPublica’s code.

If you want to create a timeline but avoid coding, try Dipity, a previous Journalism.co.uk tool of the week.

Hat tip: 10,000 Words

#ONA11: Essential lessons from the Online News Association conference

The Online News Association’s annual conference and awards took place in Boston at the end of last week.

Here is a round-up of the must-read blog posts which will help you sort though the noise of an event that saw 21,000 tweets sent by around 1,200 journalists.

A two-part post by university lecturer Sue Newhook on the top 10 tech trends is one to read and bookmark. It has links to handy tools and news of developing technologies. Part two of the post is here.

There is also a must-read Storify created by Craig Kanalley, an editor at the Huffington Post, with 13 key takeaways told in 13 tweets.

The 10,000 Words blogs has a series of posts, including on how to find and create an awesome web apps team and be a rockstar data developer, on verifying images and information from social media and this guide explaining how to create visual interactives In news time.

One session heard how ESPN and the New York Times build a second screen for readers, which has been documented on the 10,000 Words blog. The post explains the concept of a second screen:

The second screen is literally what it sounds like — the screen readers look at in addition to the TV. This could be an iPad, a laptop or a phone.

According to [Patrick Stiegman of ESPN] stats about Internet consumers, 85 million Americans consume both TV and the web simultaneously. This provides a huge opportunity for news organisations to serve fans in real time, alongside live events.

One particularly interesting area for UK news sites to consider is how the New York Times, which doesn’t control the first screen, competes with eyes for the second screen.

The post explains how Brian Hamman and Tyson Evans of the New York Times  have observed and outlined the cycle for event coverage online:

1.    Event cycle: What’s happening, how much can I get about the event before it happens?

2.    Analysis cycle: When event is started, what does it all mean

3.    Conversation cycle: What are other people and my social circle saying and how can I chime in?
To accomodate for all three cycles of these major events, the best project to point at is The New York Times’ Oscars coverage, which was a dashboard built with three streams.

And the post explains how you can do it all for free:

If you don’t have a team of developers to spend three months building these tools (as Evans and Hammans spent on the Oscars site), there are free tools you can use to achieve the same thing:

  1. Cover it live widget for the realtime analysis
  2. Free Twitter and Facebook widgets for the conversation elements.
  • If you were unable to take a trip to the US to attend #ONA11, you can learn about key developments in journalism at news:rewired – connected journalism, which takes place in London on 6 October.

Google News US launches ‘standout’ tag so news sites can highlight top content

Google News unveiled a new feature during a session at the Online News Association Conference in Boston at the weekend which will allow publishers to highlight their top content and give “even more credit where credit is due”, according to the Google blog.

At present the so-called “standout content” tag is only available on the US edition of Google News and it is not clear from the Google blog when it plans to roll out the new feature in the UK.

The Google blog explains how news sites can flag up top content:

If you put the tag in the HTML header of one of your articles, Google News may show the article with a ‘featured’ label on the Google News homepage and News search results. The syntax for this new tag is as follows:

 <link rel=”standout” href=“http://www.example.com/scoop_article_2.html” />
The post makes an important point:

Standout content tags work best when news publishers recognise not just their own quality content, but also the original journalistic contributions of others when your stories draw from the standout efforts of other publications. Linking out to other sites is well recognised as a best practice on the web, and we believe that citing others’ standout content is important for earning trust as you also promote your own standout work.

Google is asking news sites to use the tag a maximum of seven times a week so that it can recognise what is exceptional content.

  • The 10,000 Words blog was at Online News Association Conference and has more on the launch of the feature.

10,000 Words: news site screenshots from 9/11, ten years on

The 10,000 Words blog has created a slideshow of screenshots showing the homepages of 45 newspaper, broadcaster, blog and other online news outlet websites on Sunday, the ten year anniversary of 9/11, showing their coverage between 10am and 11am Pacific Standard Time.

There is also an original gallery of shots which were captured between 12.30am and 1.30am PST (8.30am to 9.30am GMT) here.

Read more on 10,000 Words.

How journalists can use Google+ circles

The 10,000 Words blog has an interesting suggestion for local reporters – but this post is probably worth a read by all journalists.

Meranda Watling suggests setting up circles in Google+ for each reporting area to allow you to share news stories, information, and interact with contacts.

The thing to point out is that your contacts don’t need to have a Google+ account – their email address can be added to a circle and they will then receive updates in their inbox.

A UK local reporter could create a circle for education, one for county council contacts and another for borough or district councillors, for example.

Watling has a suggestion to allow contacts to opt in to receiving your posts:

Create a general public “everything” circle that gets all the items you post — and place everyone you add (or who adds you) here by default. Tell people that these other specific circles exist, and give them the option to be included there and also to exclude themselves from other circles (including your everything list). Yes, this is absolutely going to take time, especially at first and especially if you’re a large news organisation. But think of the usefulness.

With this general set-up, you’ll be able to target relevant news directly to the stream of people most interested in it. Rather than have multiple Facebook pages to keep track of, you can simply select which circle each post is shared with each time you post.

Think of the comment threads that can be developed among only people specifically interested in that area of news. Also, if you’re looking for news tips or sources, post a message to that circle. It only goes to relevant folks and other people don’t feel bombarded with pleas.

Watling notes caveats such as dealing with non-tech-savvy contacts. There is also the problem that contacts are likely to view updates arriving by email as spammy.

The full 10,000 Words post is at this link.

For 10 other ways journalists can use Google+ click here.

If you are a journalist and not yet on Google+ and would like an invite, fill in this form and I will attempt to invite you.

Facebook lessons: from Paul Bradshaw and PageLever

Yesterday Paul Bradshaw shared his experience of running a blog entirely through a Facebook Page for four weeks, offering his thoughts on the month-long project in a post back on his Online Journalism Blog.

In the early days of the experiment he had already started noticing the pros and cons of the platform, from the impact of the 400 character limit on what he could write, to the possibilities presented by being able to post from a mobile phone via email.

So a month later here are his main reflections:

  • Facebook suits emotive material

The most popular posts during that month were simple links that dealt with controversy.

  • It requires more effort than most blogs

With most blogging it’s quite easy to ‘just do it’ and then figure out the bells and whistles later. With a Facebook Page I think a bit of preparation goes a long way – especially to avoid problems later on.

  • It isn’t suited to anything you might intend to find later

Although Vadim Lavrusik pointed out that you can find the Facebook Page through Google or Facebook’s own search, individual posts are rather more difficult to track down. The lack of tags and categories also makes it difficult to retrieve updates and notes – and highlights the problems for search engine optimisation.

  • It should be part of a network strategy

So, in short, while it’s great for short-term traffic, it’s bad for traffic long term. It’s better for ongoing work and linking than for more finished articles.

And his overall conclusion: Facebook should be used as “one more step in a distributed strategy” not in isolation.

Usefully in his post he offers a list of apps he used to integrate his Facebook content with his other online presences, which might a good reference point for others looking to use Facebook in a similar way:

  • RSS Graffiti (for auto-posting RSS feeds from elsewhere)
  • SlideShare (adds a new tab for your presentations on that site)
  • Cueler YouTube (pulls new updates from your YouTube account)
  • Tweets to Pages (pulls from your Twitter account into a new tab)
  • There’s also Smart Twitter for Pages which publishes page updates to Twitter; or you can use Facebook’s own Twitter page to link pages to Twitter.

There was also some interesting research published this month which looked at Facebook fan pages and engagement. According to the 10,000 Words blog a study was carried out by Facebook research company PageLever which suggested that as a fan page’s membership grows, engagement and page-views-per-member actually decreases.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, looking at the Fan Page and seeing that 10,000 people like your business on Facebook has its benefits. It makes you feel good.

But when it comes time to talk value, it can be a bit more difficult to find the silver lining. You might have 1,000 Likes on Facebook, but if you’re averaging around five Likes or comments per post, then only 0.005 per cent of your users saw the post and cared enough about it to respond.

Read more here…

Related content:

‘Readers may have the last say in what is and is not journalism’

How to: liveblog – lessons from news sites

#bbcsms: Al Jazeera developing new media tutorials for citizens

How newspapers can use Facebook more effectively

The New York Times, which is conducting an experiment and no longer sends automated tweets, has admitted it has not yet “cracked the code” of using Facebook, according to Liz Heron, social media editor of the newspaper, speaking at the BBC Social Media Summit.

Our journalists have not figured out how to interact with it just yet. We’re working to bring Facebook journalism onto the main page.

The NY Times has started experimenting with “gamification”.

Facebook will give you a lot of info, so we were able to show what kind of person was going in for the Kings Speech, for example, so got some interesting visualisations. In a way we therefore used a form of gamification to engage users. We want to do more to build platforms around our journalism in this way and allow our content to not only get distributed further but get some interesting information back on our key readers from it.

So what else can the newspaper – and all brands – learn from Facebook success stories?

Mashable has published an article on “eight brands that have found success on Facebook and what we can learn”. Here are its eight lessons.

1. Ask your staff, customers, vendors, and partners — who already know you and like you — to “Like” your Facebook page first.

2. Ask a lot of questions. You’ll get valuable feedback, plus you’ll be more likely to appear in your fans’ newsfeeds.

Here’s another article from 10,000 Words to tell you how to use Facebook’s new questions feature to do just that.

3. Share lots of photos, and ask your fans to share photos. Facebook’s Photos remain the most viral feature of its platform.

4. Find the resources to respond to your fans questions and inquiries.

5. If you have a physical location, use Place Pages and Deals to drive traffic through your doors.

6. Know your audience well, and when you make a mistake, quickly own up, do right by your audience and fix the problem.

7. Integrate Facebook outside of your Fan Page, on your website, in as many places as you can. Create more compelling opportunities for people to buy your product based on their friends’ Likes.

8. Find synergy with other organizations and entities, and then work together to promote each other’s Facebook pages so that everyone benefits.

Mashable’s full post with examples is at this link.

10,000 Words: MSNBC pushing the envelope of design

Over on the 10,000 Words blog Mark Luckie looks at the use of design behind MSNBC’s websites, which he claims break the mold of a traditional news site design. He asks “does the splashy approach web design actually work or is it all sizzle?” It’s worth navigating around the MSNBC sites to decide for yourself.

A few months ago, MSNBC launched BLTWY (pronounced Beltway), a niche news site centered on the celebrity side of politics. What made the site truly stand out was its unconventional design — instead of a sea of text, the page is a grid made up mostly of photos that serve as links to individual stories.

The 10,000 Words post is at this link

10,000 words: Deadline for international photography competition approaching

Photojournalism competition Pictures of the Year international closes next Friday, 14th January, reports 10,000 words.

The competition is open to professional and student photographers who can submit entries in over 40 categories, including subcategories for last year’s major news events.

The competition winners will be announced after two weeks’ of live and public judging at the Missouri journalism school’s campus next month.

For more details on the competition and how to enter, see 10,000 words

Journalism is dead – .com

Mark S. Luckie and the fantastic 10,000 Words blog now bring us journalism-is-dead.com – ‘a collection of alarmist, bombastic and otherwise humorous quotes’ about the demise of journalism.

It’s a if-you-don’t-laugh-you’ll-cry site and shows media commentators and journalists’ obsession, for better and worse, with the fate of the industry.

Favourite so far from @ivortossell:

“The internet is 62% porn, 35% TED talks, and 3% people talking about how newspapers are dead.”