Tag Archives: web development

Hacks and Hackers look at health, education and leisure

Online journalism expert Paul Bradshaw gives a detailed post on his experiences of a recent Hacks and Hackers day in Birmingham organised by Scraperwiki, experiences which he claims will “challenge the way you approach information as a journalist”.

Talking through the days events, Bradshaw observes how journalists had to adapt their traditional skills for finding stories.

Developers and journalists are continually asking each other for direction as the project develops: while the developers are shaping data into a format suitable for interpretation, the journalist might be gathering related data to layer on top of it or information that would illuminate or contextualise it.

This made for a lot of hard journalistic work – finding datasets, understanding them, and thinking of the stories within them, particularly with regard to how they connected with other sets of data and how they might be useful for users to interrogate themselves.

It struck me as a different skill to that normally practised by journalists – we were looking not for stories but for ‘nodes’: links between information such as local authority or area codes, school identifiers, and so on. Finding a story in data is relatively easy when compared to a project like this, and it did remind me more of the investigative process than the way a traditional newsroom works.

His team’s work led to the creation of a map pinpointing all 8,000 GP surgeries around the UK, which they then layered with additional data enabling them to view issues on a geographical measure.

See his full post here…

#FollowJourn: @kmatt/head of web and data

#FollowJourn: Kevin Matthews

Who? Head of web and data at the Liverpool Daily Post.

What? Journalist: Head of data and web development, Trinity Mirror Merseyside: Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Daily Post and Merseyside Weeklies.

Where? @kmatt

Contact? kevin.matthews@liverpool.com

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

Ad spend will bounce back, says Fry; multiple models needed, counters McCall

Amidst what was otherwise a fairly gloomy House of Commons select committee session on the future of local media in the UK [see Claire Enders’ prediction that half of the UK’s regional newspapers will close in five years and her comments on bloggers], Johnston Press chief executive John Fry remained staunchly optimistic about the cyclical/structural elements of the decline in local media.

While all members of the panel agreed that this was the worst crisis faced by local media in the industry’s history, Fry said the decline in advertising revenues for his group was more cyclical than structural.

“That implies that there will be a bounce in advertising when that changes. From here onwards we’re likely to bottom out. When the economy recovers we’ll see a recovery in advertising,” he said.

Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall was quick to temper Fry’s optimism:

“I don’t believe the prospects for recovery, particularly in classified advertising are particularly strong. I don’t expect to see a great deal of those three big markets – I don’t think bounce is the right word – I think it will come back slowly, it will come back in a different form or shape,” she said.

“The structural change is too profound and the economic recession has just hammered it. Deregulation is one step towards helping. It’s not a panacea. It raises all sorts of important issues about jobs.

“One thing we’re going to have to face about this industry is that it’s going to be a smaller industry with less people in it. Consolidation will help because then the clustering of assets in the right place, will makes more sense, you’ll get more scale.”

All three panellists (Fry, McCall and Trinity Mirror’s Sly Bailey) taking part in the evidence session (which had earlier taken comments from Claire Enders and DC Thomson’s Christopher Thomson) supported consolidation and the relaxation of newspaper merger rules to help local newspapers.

Yet it was McCall again with the most sensible comments – a range of issues and possible solutions need to be considered: discussions about aggregators; consolidation; support for web development; the use of part-paid, part-free access; state-funding; and the problem of council newspapers.

The industry needs to move away from the display advertising model to – not just one business model – but lots of business models, she added.

If any of them can sustain quality local journalism, none should be ruled out, she said, echoing comments from the Society of Editor’s executive director Bob Satchwell to Journalism.co.uk last week.

Innovations in Journalism – Twittermeter

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Today it’s graphs charting keywords being micro-blogged on Twitter.

image of twittermeter website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
My name is Greg Lavallee.  My day job involves web development for non-profits. I satisfy my development and data-oriented urges off the job, Twittermeter was one of a few little side things I did to keep my brain limber.

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows users post short messages via SMS, web or phone and to ‘follow’ friends posts with alerts to their phone, IM client, or the web.

It’s popular amongst the techy set. Knowing that it has a pretty stringent demographic makes looking at what people are twittering about more interesting and that’s what the Twittermeter does. Site visitors can enter one or more words and see them graphed over time.

The programming behind it is a mash-up of multiple APIs from around the web – nothing too custom.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
The Twittermeter provides a graphical representation about what the tech-set is talking about.

Unlike Google Trends, which just measures what people are searching for, Twittermeter is able to capture what they’re texting each other about.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

Lots more. I’m redoing the system now to work with a partner who is already capturing similar data for a twitter search engine (Terraminds.com). I’d also like to track popular searches.

4) Why are you doing this?
Just for fun! I used to do a lot of data analysis and now I twitter a lot, so this was a good way to experiment with data visualization, data analysis and my urge to micro-blog.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Zero!

6) How will you make it pay?
I’m considering trying to have ads that run based on the search results, but otherwise it’s not really meant as a money maker… just a fun project to keep my mind working.