If you are reporting on the referendum on the voting system, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies or from one of the 305 town halls across England and Northern Ireland with local elections, how are you going to present the results?
As a text only story which reports how many seats have been lost or gained by each party? Or are you going to try visualising the results? Here are five free and easy to use tools to liven up the results.
OpenHeatMap is a way to visualise your results in a map. It is free and very easy to use. You start by creating a spreadsheet, uploading the data and you can then embed the map in your web page.
A. Go to OpenHeatMap (you don’t need a login);
B. Create a spreadsheet. The easiest was to do this is in Google Docs. You must name your columns so OpenHeatMap can understand it. Use ‘UK_council’ for the local council, ‘tab’ for the party and ‘value’ for the number of seats. In this example, the tab column indicates the party with the most seats; the value is the number of seats;
C. Click ‘share’ (to the right hand side of your Google Doc), ‘publish as a web page’ and copy the code;
D. Paste the code into OpenHeatMap and click to view the map. In this example you will see the parties as tabs along the top which you can toggle between. You can change the colour, zoom in to your county or region and alter the transparency so you can see place names;
E. Click ‘share’ and you can copy the embed code into your story.
Anyone can now join Storify (it used to be by invitation only). It allows you to tell a story using a combination of text, pictures, tweets, audio and video.
A. Sign up to Storify;
B. Create a story and start adding content. If you click on the Twitter icon and search (say for ‘local election Kent’) you can select appropriate tweets; if you click on the Flickr icon you can find photos (you could ask a photographer to upload some); you can also add YouTube videos and content from Facebook. When you find an item you want to include, you simply drag and drop it into your story;
C. The art of a good Storify story is to use your skills as a storyteller. The tweets and photos need to be part of a narrative. There are some fantastic examples of story ideas on Storify;
D. Click to publish;
E. Copy and paste the embed code into the story on your site.
C. The video will be automatically posted live to your Qik profile but you’ll need to add the code to your website before you record (you can also live stream to your Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel).
D. To do this go to ‘My Live Channel’ (under your name). Click on it to get your embed code for your live channel.
E. Paste your embed code in your website or blog, where you want the live player to be.
How did you get on with the five tools? Let us know so that we can see your election stories.
Last week’s busy London Hacks and Hackers event brought together two very different approaches to using the web as a storytelling medium.
Two talks at last Wednesday’s event for journalists and programmers explored live reporting via Twitter and the use of linked data at the BBC’s entertainment department.
Sky News journalist Neal Mann, who has co-ordinated live coverage of some of the biggest stories in recent years, shared tips on live reporting – many of them focused on making sure to be fully prepared.
He suggested creating a list of useful and informative links on a chosen subject so that in slow moments context and detail can be added to live coverage, reminding journalists that on social media the audience looks for “speed, balance and a background view”.
In response to organiser Joanna Geary‘s question about coping with low battery life on the iPhone and other gadgets, he suggested taking battery packs and spares where possible, pointing out to live reporters that “if your battery goes, you’re screwed”.
Mann also advised journalists to remember their potential reach does not end when a live event finishes. He recommended using Storify or similar technology to round up the work done during the day and put it in context alongside other people’s coverage.
And on the subject of reach, he said he learned a valuable lesson when his Twitpic of a Sun front page went viral and garnered more than 30,000 views – but was not hosted on his own site and therefore didn’t drive his personal brand as well as it could.
BBC senior information architect Paul Rissen provided a contrasting approach to storytelling with his talk on how the BBC is using linked data and the semantic web to create and augment narrative.
He began by suggesting news organisations on the web today are still confined by their roots in print, audio and video, and that even the best infographics often fail to take advantage of the interconnectedness of the internet as a medium.
He discussed the Mythology Engine, a proof-of-concept prototype created for BBC Vision, which uses carefully structured data to map stories and events onto programmes.
Using the example of Doctor Who, the prototype moves beyond a series of pages representing episodes, series and properties, and expands to create pages for events, characters and stories.
The result, Rissen explained, is a constellation of connected pages where the meaningful relationships between people, stories and programmes are just as important as the entities themselves.
He suggested this sort of deep structured project is a way of telling stories that is truly native to the web, creating rich environments that take advantage of the multimedia possibilities online.
Rissen added this format may also work for sport and news, using the example of BBC Sport which has pages for matches, countries and players, but not individual goals.
He suggested the semantic web could offer news organisations new ways to organise context and make exploration and navigation both intuitive and enjoyable for users.
Anyone can now join multimedia storytelling platform Storify.
The site, which allows users to drag and drop elements such as tweets, audioboo recordings, photographs from Flickr and YouTube videos to tell a dynamic story, which can then be embedded on a news website or blog, was previously in private beta and an invitation was required. As of this week Storify is now in public beta.
Since its launch in September, private beta users have created more than 21,000 stories, according to this post.
Storify stories have been viewed more than 13 million times, 4.2 million views were in March. The stories generated have been embedded on more than 5,000 sites, including news sites from the New York Times, to the Guardian and BBC.
Here are five stories to inspire you to have a go:
1. The Stream, the daily television show powered by social media and citizen journalism on Al Jazeera English, has created this Storify story on Blogging from “Between the Bars”.