Tag Archives: Brian Boyer

ProPublica launches ChangeTracker with help of journalist-programmer

Not-for-profit news organisation ProPublica is already making the most of new journalist-programmer intern Brian Boyer, who joined the site last month.

Boyer, who graduated from a specialist programming-journalism course at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, has created ChangeTracker – a tool to monitor changes made to WhiteHouse.gov, Recovery.gov and the upcoming FinancialStability.gov websites.

“ChangeTracker lets users see exactly what was removed, edited or updated on those sites by showing side-by-side comparisons of sites before and after changes made to them,” says a release from ProPublica.

What’s more you can get updates of the changes via RSS, Twitter, email or via the ChangeTracker webpage.

“ChangeTracker will help us keep an eye on the administration’s transparency pledges, and will help reporters, bloggers, government watchdogs and everyday citizens keep watch over the websites of their elected officials,” said Scott Klein, director of online development.

In true Boyer style, the programming behind the tool will be open source, much like his News Mixer application, for use by third-parties.

The organisation recently launched Shovelwatch – a site analysing President Obama’s stimulus package.

ProPublica’s ‘Shovelwatch’: reviewing Obama’s stimulus package

Not-for-profit news organisation ProPublica has crated a site dedicated to analysis of President Obama’s stimulus package for the US economy.

Working with news program The Takeaway and public radio station WNYC, ShovelWatch is big on data and data visualisation.

For starters:

A searchable, visual representation of the senate and state’s spending plans for the stimulus bill – created using IBM’s Many Eyes (also used by the New York Times):

Screenshot of Shovelwatch visualisation

A fully searchable database of ‘How Much Your School District Stands to Lose in Stimulus Bill Construction Funds’.

The site will continue to develop – perhaps deploying the skills of new intern programmer-journalist Brian Boyer – and, in a press release, said it will later look to citizen’s help track how the plan is working/not working.

News Mixer API spawns Iowa Content experiment

News Mixer, the final year project of programming-journalism students at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University aimed at breathing new life into commenting systems on news sites, was always intended to be developed and adapted further by third parties.

“We got a lot of the hard work out of the way and the code is out there for anyone to play with (…) it’s free. Use it,” Brian Boyer, one of the developers behind it, insisted in an interview last year.

The open source nature of the project has allowed three developers from e-Me Ventures to create Iowa Content – a WordPress-based widget that aggregates localised news content from a range of sources and is connected to Facebook Connect.

Iowa Content is based on News Mixer’s quip function – short-form responses to news items, ideally suited to Twitter or Facebook status updates.

Being linked with the social network will encourage readers to discuss and comment on the news – as well as share links via their profiles.

It’s in the experimental stage right now, but as the intro video below says, it’s about ‘grassroots creation of meaningful content’: