Advanced Online Media – Data Journalism

We talked a bit in the lecture last week about data journalism, when Tom Hannen showed us his inforgraphic work for the BBC. I thought we'd look at it a bit more today. Datajournalism has a bit of a hot topic in online journalism circles for the last couple of years with lots of developers and journalists experimenting with different ways to find stories in data. 

A good place to go for an introduction to the field is The Guardian's Datablog – The Guardian has been experimenting for a while now with making data available to people to use in various ways. Their best known efforts include their coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal and their ground-breaking experiment in crowd-sourcing investigative analysis and, obviously, Wikileaks.

A debate has been going on for a few years now, linked to the growing availability of data online, one that suggests that journalists need to be more than storytellers now, that they need to know how to work with data in different ways. A couple of years agi, the new media pundit Jeff Jarvis asked the question, 'Is Journalism Storytelling?' Adrian Monck tackled the same area around the same time, arguing that the future of journalism was maths, or rather 'presenting mathematised knowledge'. The story is now redundant, he suggests…

These are rather extreme positions – perhaps what Wikileaks shows is that data on its own isn't enough – that to reach a larger audience there needs to be some sort of story there, or narrative frame… Martin Moore has a good introduction to current thinking about the field – he argues that data journalism is about coping with information abundance and that it means lots of different things – it's not just about database programming.

If you want go deeper, Paul Bradshaw has published some excellent early drafts of a chapter from his book on online journalism, covering data and what to do with it – have a look at his general Data Journalism posts too. He also wrote a really useful intro for The Guardian. Jonthan Stray published a good list of links to further reader on data. 

One thing you can do online is find new ways to present data… There's a growing interest in data visualisation, in mixing data, maps, charts and text to explore and communicate ideas and issues…If we get a chance, we'll talk about this, I hope. 

We'll have a look at David McCandless' work in this area – his site has lots of great information and some brilliant interactives you can can play with (e.g Snake Oil?). We'll also look at his TED lecture. 

 And we might watch this: Alex Lundry's Chart Wars



Advanced Online Media – some links re data and storytelling

Here are a few more links re data and story telling: 

Nieman Storyboard on maps, charticles and stories

The American Journalism Review on the rise of the charticle

Nieman Storyboard on Cutthroat Capitalism – a ground-breaking piece of investigative journalism by Scott Carney, done as a series of graphic/visualisations and then turned into game online. The piece ran in the magazine last year and is still online. Carney talks about how he did the story on his blog – it was a lot of work. 

The New York Times' interactive data-driven story, How Different Groups Spend Their Day, which sounds a bit dull but is just brilliant. Related to this, Nieman Storyboard on 'statistics as story'.

The 'how are you doing today?' project

Here's a nice example of using infographics to get a story across – So You Still Think the Internet is Free

Here's an interactive visualisation of the way organised crime works, from Wired Magazine


Advanced Online Media – Some examples of live blogging

Perhaps the best way to learn how to live blog (and to learn what you can do and what kinds of things you can write) is to look at some real life examples. A good place to start is the The Guardian's Minute by Minutes page, which showcases all the live blogs they have running at any one time. Have a read of some of their liveblogs and think about the types of post they feature, the different media and news inputs a journalist uses as they live blog and how they can prepare, as writers, for this kind of job. 

AWJ – Google Maps and journalism online

Today we're going to look at how to use maps in your online journalism. Sometimes this is about telling a story in a new way. Sometimes it's about infographics – about getting across information in a clear and engaging way. We're going to look at various examples of online maps and then you're going to work on creating a few Google Maps.

Here are a few links we might look at:

Google Maps and the unofficial Google Maps Mania blog

Here are a few maps and some stories:

Some of these examples are a bit old now. But they show you some of the things people tried as the ideas of using maps in stories online developed. Now map-based stories are very complex – they blur with timelines and infographics in general and involve some serious programming and Flash animation. Reza will show you a bit of this in class today. You can also find state of the art map stories via the Maps Mania blog mentioned above. 

Advanced Online Media – My Instapaper RSS feed

I mentioned this in the morning workshop today – I use Instapaper to save articles for reading later. At the moment, I'm mostly saving stuff that's relevant to the work you're doing on this module. I do bookmark some of the pieces I on Delicious eventually. But another way you could get access to the pieces I'm reading is by subsribing to the RSS feed for my Instapaper Unread folder. I'm not completely sure this will work. But here's the link:

You could try copying that and then pasting it into the Subscribe box on Google Reader. Let me know if it works (or doesn't).


Essential Journalism – Delicious

One research site we might look at today is Delicious - it's a social bookmarking tool – which means it allows you to store bookmarks online and then share those bookmarks with other Delicious users…

The site has recently be revamped by its new owners – the guys who started YouTube. They bought Delicious from Yahoo around a year ago. Before that it had been left to languish a bit. The new owners have added new social features and made the site a bit more visual. There are lots of other sites around that do similar things – for example, Diigo and Pinboard. It's worth playing around with them and seeing which one works best for you. 

Today we'll talk a bit about how best to use social bookmarking tools as part of your approach to research online.


Essential Journalism – Online research – Google Reader and Google News

The net makes it really easy to find and consume a wide range of media. I'm not just talking about pure news here. You can read a vast amount of cultural analysis/journalism, comment, opinion, reviews and more online.

But, obviously, you already know that. However, are you really taking advantage of all the information that's out there?

One of the key skills you need to develop as journalists (whatever medium you work in) is media literacy and news sense. Whatever your interest (music, sport, fashion), you need to read widely and really get a sense of what's going on in your field, what stories are being covered by who and why.

Here are a couple of tools that will help you broaden the range of media you consume:

RSS Feeds You can use special news reader programs to subscribe to news feeds. It's a good way of scanning a lot of news/information in one go. You can also use web-based services to do something similar. We'll try out Google Reader as an easy way into using feeds.

News Aggregators Google News is the best known of these sorts of sites. It automatically gathers news stories from sources all over the world and organises them according to various categories. News aggregators can give you access to a wide variety of perspectives on big news stories (but not always – we'll talk about this in class). There are various other new aggregators that build on what Google News does – for example, Silobreaker and Newser. NewsMap is an interesting attempt to visualise the flow of stories on Google News

We're going to do a couple of things today. 

I'd like you to set up Google Reader and subscribe to a few news feeds. Over the next week, I'd like you to use the service to track stories in a field/subject/area that interests you.

Also, I'd like you to personalise Google News.  Set it up to track news stories you're interested in and use it over the next week or so. Next week, we''ll talk about how useful you found each service.