Online Journalism

Briggs Chapter 9 Summary: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

March 19th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 9 Summary: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life




“There is no such thing as information overload, only filter failure.” 

Digitize your life: use digital tools + services to manage your day without drowning in e-mails, status updates, blogposts, etc. 

Digitize your journalism: use technology to improve productivity + make journalism more meaningful to audience 

Your Digital Life: 

  • Organize e-mail

              – “Inbox Zero” – look at each e-mail message only once 

              - Spend two minutes or less per e-mail 

              - If you can’t reply in less than two minutes, file it for later 

              - Goal — zero e-mails in inbox after e-mail session 

  • Find right personal productivity tools:

              – Develop a strategy 

                 * What you need to manage + the right tools to manage it = personal productivity 

                 * Variables to consider when using tools: 

                     1. How much are you willing to pay? — many solutions are free 

                     2. Do you need to integrate with other systems or with a mobile device? 

                     3. Do you need an offline solution? 

                 *Investigate possible solutions: 

                   1. Office suites: Google, Office Live, Zoho  

                   2. Specialized solutions: Instapaper, Remember The Milk, Oh don’t forget, Evernote, Jott, Dropbox, Backpack, Basecamp, Socrata, MindMeister 

                   3. Latest tips and info:,, 

              - Bring order to your contacts: 

                 * Use digital, not paper-based, information storage systems 

                 * News organization can build reader database from e-mail addresses from readers/by advertising and inviting readers to join 

                 * Reader networks used effectively in many situations, especially when sources or feedback are needed 

              - Bring order to your work: 

                 * Project management programs allow you to assign tasks, share files, establish deadlines and include notes (Basecamp, Zoho) 

                 * Can be used to track all kinds of projects 

                 * Take courses/read books on project management 

Data-Driven Journalism: 

* Using databases, spreadsheets and other forms of structured or fielded data in news coverage or story development 

* Almost any assignment can be broken down into datapoints + organized for customized manipulation 

* Most daily newspapers have event calendar databases; visitors can access most recent information at any time; event planners can add events directly into database 

  • Why is data-driven journalism important?

              - News organizations are making their Web sites data destinations, providing information to audiences in a searchable database format while streamlining their own operation and cutting down on data entry 

  • Every story is a field of data – can break any story into separate fields for analysis and entry into a spreadsheet or database online
  • Telling stories with data:

              – Use data to create “alternate story form” for print edition 

              - Break down information into common parts – subject, location, date, action – build information resource that grows as you gather more 

              - Databases can help solve problem of slowly developing stories    

              – Helping reporters do their jobs: 

                 * Computer algorithms sort through databased information much more quickly than human investigative reporter 

                 * Reporter can use database to discover potential story leads that might never have been found 

                 * Often leads to great stories  

              – Sharing data: 

                 * Application Program Interface (API): allows anyone to tap into data and build tools and Web pages; connection of data and technology between two different Web sites 

                 * Closed systems + absolute control over content don’t work in digital information ecosystem 

                 * U.S. government created Web site at  that allows journalists to mix and mash all that data with other information sources according to their own specific focus 

Building Spreadsheets, Databases: 

  •   Creating a spreadsheet easy

               - Often easier to use a spreadsheet as first step to creating database 

               - Sometimes a spreadsheet is all you need 

               - When setting up a spreadsheet, include as many fields as possible 

               – Fielded data is key to sorting efficiently + being able to group items 

               - Use Excel or Google Docs to create spreadsheets 

Moving from spreadsheet to relational database: 

  • Turn”flat” list into relational database
  • “Relational” – one type of information relates to another
  • Database allows you to view each record as its own page
  • Software solutions can help build database once information is in spreadsheet (Microsoft Access for Windows + FileMaker for Mac;  free online solutions Socrata, Zoho or Grubba)

Map Mashups merge data from different sources: 

* Product of taking physical location data (addresses, points on a map) and organizing them based on a category/information type 

* People have created map mashups with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft maps for everything from pub crawls to tracking buses in Bangalore 

  • Map mashups tell stories, too:

              – Heavy on manual labor 

              – Homicides: example of ongoing stories that benefit from use of data visualization + power of capturing information + sorting it into right buckets 

              - If structure for data done correctly, computer software makes it easy to update + produce 

  • Applications in breaking news:

              – Databases and maps can be used for breaking news stories 

Build An Interactive Map With Data: 

* Build own map mashup with actual code or third-party service 

* Free online services will build map for you (, ZeeMaps,, UMapper, and Google’s My Maps

  • Think beyond single-use maps:

              - News organizations discovering power of building entire data ecosystems from geographically based journalism, data and user-submitted content 

              - Some local newspapers have projects that display several types of news and information based on geography 

              - Instead of a single-use map mashup, Web audience can see data feeds + recent news stories based on location 

              - The best allow audience to contribute information to share with the neighborhoods – a one-stop shopping for news and information tailored to your geography  

  • Location-aware devices changing the game:

              - Displaying information, or interacting with audience, based on geography is powerful new frontier for many local news organizations 

              - Can reach growing portion of audience that carries GPS-enabled mobile phone depending on where they happen to be 

              - Location changes everything: inputs + outputs

              - Locative technology demands different presentation (non-linear) because it’s a different experience for the user 

Better Life, Better Journalism: 

  • “Data literacy more important now”
  • “Beat reporters should know how to obtain, analyze and write about data on their beats”
  • Get the most out of data — store electronically then convert, organize, update and enhance 


Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

The AP finally drops the hyphen in e-mail

March 19th, 2011 · Comments Off on The AP finally drops the hyphen in e-mail

Summary: Beginning Saturday at 2:00 A.M., the Associated Press will drop the hyphen in its spelling of e-mail as it recognizes it as a proper noun. It also will recognize cell phone and smart phone as singular, self-contained nouns.

Read the TechCrunch article here.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Facebook can make or break you

March 19th, 2011 · Comments Off on Facebook can make or break you

Some people love it. Some people say it’s the devil. But with over 500 million users, we cannot deny its power.

Facebook is the latest medium that can help decide if your interviewer will hire you.

We all have had someone put in a good word so that it can help us get a job. A more formal name for that is references.

Facebook is one of the leading websites that socially and professionally networks people so that they can apply for a job. It was designed to connect people to the jobs they want.

New jobs such as social media strategist, social media publicist and social media coordinator have opened up because of the Facebook Revolution.

Getting recommendations is one of the biggest boosts in obtaining a job. Whether you are in the automotive, marketing, fashion or construction industty, Facebook is the tool to market careers for all.

By networking through Facebook, it creates a much more personalized tone to showcase who you are. Posting pictures of you getting wasted with your tongue kissing a bottle of Jose Cuervo is not the wisest thing.

Facebook is not just about updating your statuses about what you are eating for breakfast. Writing about yourself in pursuit of a job to your friends…that can also help.

So, it’s time for you to get on Facebook, but this time for doing good and exhibiting your talents, not just stirring up drama.

Happy reading folks.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · Student Blog Posts