Five questions for news organisations preparing to do data journalism

These are the five pertinent points raised by Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust, in the wake of WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan War logs, and the resulting stories by The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel. He predicts that massive data releases of this kind are likely to accelerate — so news organisations need to get their act together and ask themselves the following:

1. How do we harness public intelligence to generate a long tail of stories?
2. How do we make it personal?
3. How can use the data to increase trust?
4. How do we best — and quickly — filter the data (and work out what, and what not, to publish)?
5. How can we ensure future whistleblowers bring their data to us?

Read more here [link]

How young people use social networks for news, particularly on Facebook

Some edited highlights from a BBC focus group of 19-39-year-olds:

*very clear understanding of what they wanted from Facebook (Twitter barely mentioned)

*sophisticated appreciation of the image they projected through FB… most used it for both personal and professional reasons

*used it on both their mobiles and their PCs, but to do different things. Mobile usage is about need; PCs about choice and pleasure

*all saw comment and discussion as a key component of enjoying news on FB

*very mixed view too on what kind of news should be posted by news organisations on FB (light vs serious). Most accepted that it was probably a good idea for media organisations to ‘put it all out there’ and let people pick and choose for themselves.

Having said that, nobody really believed what they read on Facebook, even if it had mainstream media branding all over it. If they wanted to know about a particular story, they would go directly to a mainstream media website either first, or via FB

Read more here [link]

Mobile breakthrough? Footage from cameraphones is now widely accepted

On a documentary about Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot in demonstrations in Tehran last summer (BBC College of Journalism blog):

“The home video feel of the conversations with her mother, sister and father meshes well with the footage from the streets filmed on mobile phones and uploaded to You Tube and Facebook.

The film has gone viral in Iran with the active support of HBO. So far it’s not been seen on British television, but you can watch it on You Tube.

After a recent screening at the Frontline Club in London, its director, Anthony Thomas, answered questions.
…the wider audience is far more accepting of You Tube quality footage than documentary buffs might think. It is now the raw material of news and therefore of documentaries – and Thomas and his team made great use if it.

When even a highly-produced programme like the BBC’s Imagine includes an interview with Canadian writer Margaret Atwood on Skype, in its recent profile of Diana Athill, you know that shift is permanent.”

Read more here [link]

Data journalism: how much — and what — do journalists need to know?

Some pertinent points on data journalism from Mary Hamilton’s Metamedia blog, reiterating the importance of journalists’ ability to make sense of data:

“We need to know our way around a spreadsheet. We need to be able to spot patterns in data and understand not only what they mean but also how we can use them to reveal stories that are not only relevant but useful.

We need to know where our skills can get us. We need to know our capabilities and our limits – and, crucially, we must be aware of what we don’t know. […]

Journalism is about asking the right questions. We research stories before we interview subjects so that we can ask pertinent questions whose answers will illuminate the subject. We need to be able to do the same thing with our data – we need to know what questions to ask and how, so that even if we can’t make the tools ourselves we can hand over the task to someone else without asking the impossible or wasting their time.”

Read more here [link]

Students suffer media withdrawal: clue to future of journalism?

Regina McCombs reports: “Students use the language of addiction and withdrawal in talking about their experiences going without technology for 24 hours during a study at the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism.

‘I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,’ said one student. ‘Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely,’ said another. […]??Students equated technology with media — the phones, iPods, computers, laptops and televisions were just a means to get to information, whether that information was about the world around them, or about their friends. And much of that technology is mobile. Phones in particular […] ‘A truer mapping of those pathways could provide direction to journalists in their search for relevance in the century ahead’. ”

Read more here [link]

Easy solutions to web production’s most common problems

A great problem-solving round-up by Mark Luckie of 10,000 Words:

“In my role as multimedia producer for California Watch and in other newsrooms where I’ve worked, I am frequently approached by reporters to help them with web-related issues. Often it’s how to post content on the web, how to edit something, or how to do something I’ve never heard of (which I later google).

Here are some of the most common question I’m asked — and if you are a web producer, you are too — and the answers to those questions.”

Read more here [link]

Three fallacies of newspaper thinking (and how paywalls cracked…)

Three fallacies of newspapers’ assumptions about online content, highlighted by a discussion of paywalls etc, summarised by William Owen of Made by Many:

1) the internet is free because of a mix of habit and a spurious moral right, and that if you can change habits and challenge morality we’ll go back to paying for content.

2) a newspaper’s competition is other newspapers.

3) nothing else changes, content is still just the end product of the publishing process.

Read more here [link]

Data journalism in action: hacks and hackers

Some interesting examples from a 'Hacks and Hackers Hack Day' run by ScraperWiki "to see what happens when you put journalists and developers in the same room and ask them to come up with a data-driven story in one day."??They came up with everything from mapping the shortest journeys and the profiles of candidates in the safest Conservative constituencies, to gifts and freebies received by the Mayor of London, and which MPs (and from which parties) write for which newspapers.

Read more here [link]

How news organisations are using Google Wave to engage their audience

The Chicago Tribune’s RedEye has a live public Wave on news every weekday morning. Hilary Fosdal writes:
“With each Daily Wave, RedEye connects with their readers and builds a sense of community. The RedEye is also demonstrating that is sees itself as more than a newspaper and more than a blog by embracing innovative technology that encourages a continuous and dynamic discussion about the news.

Robert Quigley, social media editor of the Austin American-Statesman has also held public waves with his readers.

“The challenge right now is keeping public waves on topic. If they get more than 50 blips discussion grinds to a halt […] for Google Wave to work during a news event, there needs to be the ability to moderate and/or easily spin something into another wave and link to it in the first wave to keep it on topic.” ”

Read more here [link]

How one reporter used Twitter to help with sources

Daniel Victor provides a detailed account, ending with three key points for journalists to note:

1) If I were sitting in my cubicle thinking, “Who could help me with this story?”, none of the five people would have immediately popped into my mind, and I certainly wouldn’t have met them outside of Twitter since this story wasn’t on my beat. This is the power of Twitter for reporting: You can find help in unexpected places, from people you wouldn’t normally have access to.

2) But it only paid off because I’ve taken the time to build a useful local network. I’ve counted 415 Twitter users I follow in the Harrisburg area, though I suspect I follow more who I’ve neglected to add to the list. Every one of them could prove valuable in a pinch — we just never know when it’ll be.

3) You’ll notice Twitter didn’t replace fundamental reporting, it just facilitated it. I still needed to persist and call the chairman three separate times before I got the source on the phone.

Read more here [link]