Tag Archives: Scott Klein

#wef11: ‘Many journalists are slaves to a CMS – think beyond that’

There was a fascinating session at the World Editors Forum today titled ‘looking beyond the article’, which saw a number of speakers discuss the news game, and the ways news outlets are using gamification methods to offer wider context and understanding to news stories, events and scenarios.

One of the first speakers, Bill Adair, who is founder and editor of PolitiFact said he felt there was “a tremendous lack of imagination” in the industry in how to take advantage of new publishing platforms.

It’s like we’ve been given a brand new canvas with this whole palette of colours and we’re only painting in grey. We need to bring all the other colours to this new canvas.

He later said:

Many of us are slaves to our content management systems, which are slaves to the old way we were publishing. We have to think beyond that.

Scott Klein, editor of news applications at ProPublica, shared many examples of news apps which are doing just that. Klein’s presentation of these examples can be found at this link.

He told the conference that as well as adding context a news app has the ability to personalise and place the user at the centre of the story and offer them the ability to see the impact on them, “it doesn’t just tell a story, it tells your story”, he said.

You can hear him speak more about this in the audio interview below:

Scott Klein of ProPublica by journalismnews

Another member of the panel was Bobby Schweizer, co-author of Newsgames: Journalism at Play. He said video games give the opportunity to look beyond the traditional news story and called on conference delegates to try and “make something”.

And he himself is trying to help make this happen, working on the development of new software called the Cartoonist to help journalists produce their own news games, a project which won Knight News funding last year.

In the short audio clip below I ask him more about what this software will offer journalists:

Bobby Schweizer, co-author of Newsgames by journalismnews

When asked about the implications of news games being able to be created quickly and potentially running alongside more breaking forms of the story, Schweizer said news outlets and journalists need to ask themselves why they are making the game.

You have to ask what do you have to gain over a written article? If you only need to answer who, what, when and where maybe you don’t need a game. This has to be a balance that each organisation will have to find for themselves.

DocumentCloud still looking for more collaborators; will build on Amazon Web Services

Last week we reported on DocumentCloud’s new partner, Thomson Reuters and its long list of ‘beta-testers’ including one from the UK – the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) based at City University, London.

To re-cap, DocumentCloud is a an open-source platform to make data more easily accessible, pointing users to documents hosted elsewhere, similar to a card cataloguing system or search engine. Only in rare circumstances will DocumentCloud serve the documents itself.

We asked one of its founders, Scott Klein, about the next steps for the project, a winner of the Knight News Challenge 2009.

So why use Thomson Reuter’s OpenCalais?

[SK]”OpenCalais will, as documents are entering our system, find ‘entities’ (people, places, organisations) in them and hand them back to our servers as machine-readable swath of information, which we’ll store and index, and make available for people to query. The process will happen in real-time, and will be a big part of how we relate documents to each other.”

Will you look to partner other large organisations like Thomson Reuters?

“Yes, definitely. We intend to rely heavily on Amazon’s Web Services infrastructure – namely, their Elastic Computing Cloud and Elastic Block Store services, and Amazon has been very enthusiastic about working with us.

“As for other partners, we have a wish list of companies and technologies we think would work well with DocumentCloud. But we’re also happy to talk to anybody who is interested in contributing technology. We don’t imagine that we have all the answers or that we have to invent everything that goes into this.”

What’s next in the development / collaboration pipeline?

“[As reported by Journalism.co.uk] A few weeks ago, we released under an open-source license a major component of our document processing system, an easy-to-use parallel-processing framework for Ruby on Rails called CloudCrowd. Next we’ll start tackling other big components, such as the hosting infrastructure and user interface.”

Will you be hiring any more staff – we see you’ve appointed your lead programmer?

“Yes, we’re on the hunt for some contract staff to work on building out our infrastructure, and on our visual design/user experience.”

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.