WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Mon - 20.10.2014


propublica

Working with numbers is becoming more important than ever for journalists.

Vast amounts of data are being collected online, investigative journalism outfits like ProPublica are doing more and more work with large sets of publicly available data, and data visualisations are increasingly becoming a standard part of reporting. At the end of last year, Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia, named 'Big Data' as her first prediction of a major tech trend for 2011.

Tools already exist for journalists to exploit this growth in data. Nieman Lab reported earlier this week on Weave, an open-source internet platform for creating visualizations of "any available data by anyone for any purpose". Another example is Tableau Public, a data visualization tool that was billed by Journalism.co.uk as requiring "no technical ability" and being "easier to use than the wizard options that allow you to create graphs in Excel".

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-02-02 18:37

Scott Klein is Editor of News Applications at ProPublica, the New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to investigative journalism. He tells WAN-IFRA how 'a whole new ocean of investigation has become possible' now new technology is available to journalists.

Klein heads a team of programmers and journalists who create new software that allows users not just to read stories, but to interact with them and find out how national trends are relevant to their daily lives. Projects range from The Opportunity Gap, a database where users can compare how well states provide richer and poorer schools with the same access to advanced classes, to Dollars for Docs, a programme that readers can use to find whether their own doctor has been paid money by drug companies.

Klein will be speaking at the 18th World Editors Forum, from 12th - 15th October in Vienna, about how news organizations can look beyond traditional forms to create more interactive methods of story-telling.

WAN-IFRA: What are the most important things to bear in mind when designing a news application?

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-08-29 14:08

Faced with both the global recession and the unstoppable momentum of the Internet, traditional commercial models for newspapers are becoming outdated.

Alternative news organisations have emerged, allowing journalism to thrive even in one of the most unstable times newspapers have ever known. The non-profit news sector has attracted a lot of attention in particular, as they are redefining how news organisations work. The newsrooms, which rely on donations, grants, and sponsorships, have been cropping up across the U.S. Although they have been praised for their commitment to investigative journalism and democracy, they have not been collectively put under a giant microscope - until now.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-07-20 18:33

Last week, the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released a set of data documenting student access to advanced classes and special programs in public high schools. ProPublica used that data for some traditional news analysis but also went beyond that. Nieman Journalism Lab reported on the non-profit news outlet's data journalism project, which incorporates and encourages sharing the data in social media.

"The Opportunity Gap," ProPublica's online story package, is based on OCR data that covers 85,000 schools and about 75 percent of public high school students in the US. In other words, the amount of data is enormous, but ProPublica's app makes it easy for users to access and cross-compare data from different schools. Its news app team designed the app to encourage public participation by including tools for sharing data on Facebook. It even made it possible to generate individual URLs, making sharing and linking to the data even easier.

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2011-07-05 17:54

On Monday, Amazon announced that John Locke became the first independent author to join the ranks of those who have sold a million or more books on Amazon's Kindle. Locke published his books entirely through Amazon's self-publishing system, selling his action and adventure stories for 99 cents.

Noting the business opportunity that a 35-cent profit margin on every 99-cent provided, Locke said he "set a goal to become the world's greatest 99-cent author."

Kindle's self-publishing model has been praised for freeing authors from dependence on third-party deals, but that is not the only publishing opportunity it provides. It also promotes shorter reading material, as many readers are more likely to turn to shorter stories over novels to avoid staring at a small screen for hours at a time. This is good news for long form journalism, which does not always find its place in digital news.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-06-21 14:01

ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism source, has launched a new tool allowing users to share good investigative stories online.

The feature, #MuckReads, is on ProPublica's website and its content is generated by recommendations on Twitter. The feature takes advantage of Twitter's capacity to share links quickly and accompany tweets with a hashtag to allow other users to track the topic.

#MuckReads is dependent on user participation, and ProPublica eventually hopes to turn users' aggregation of stories into an ongoing newsroom resource. The heavy reliance on Twitter is part of a larger trend of editorial work being opened to the public using social media. LongReads, a site that links readers to long articles, also relies on an aggregation of user content. The homepage features two lists: "our picks", articles chosen by the editorial staff, and "community picks", consisted of articles tweeted by users. Users can see how many times their story was retweeted.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-06-17 17:48

As newspapers are forced to devote fewer resources to quality journalism, what is happening to investigative journalism?

According to Paul Lashmar, a former investigative journalist, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are stepping in.

European NGOs have an inherent advantage compared to newspapers that can no longer afford to staff foreign bureaus: they span the world. In today's aid climate, NGOs are widely perceived as an efficient way to solve certain issues and circumvent inefficient governments. Lashmar notes that their funds and specified projects tackling corruption, human rights, and environmental issues give them intimate knowledge on topics that make for good investigative journalism.

This is evidenced by two front-page investigations originally from NGOs published in The Guardian last October. Lashmar also cites a BBC Panorama broadcast on e-waste in Africa received much of its evidence from a London-based environmental NGO.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-06-14 15:30

Nonprofit news organisations seem to be gaining traction in the news industry. For anyone interested in the nonprofit model, The Texas Tribune, launched at the end of 2009, is one of the most interesting outlets to follow. Evan Smith, the editor-in-chief of the site, spoke recently to Business Insider about the organisation and its experience with the not-for-profit news model.

The site has seen a healthy flow of visitors since its inception - it exceeded its expectations in six months - and last Wednesday it set a daily record of 60,000 unique visitors. But traffic is one thing; sustainability is a harder nut to crack. The Texas Tribune has raised over $9 million and has also other revenue streams. This gave reason for Smith to believe that the nonprofit model could provide a sustainable future: "I'm ever more confident every single day."

It seems that steady funding is, at least partly, a consequence of quality content: The Texas Tribune has already won journalism awards and has a content partnership with the New York Times.

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2011-05-27 16:56

PBS's MediaShift's Carrie Lozano discussed collaboration between Frontline, ProPublica and NPR. The three news organisations came together to work on Post Mortem, an examination of flaws in death investigation in America. Susanne Reber, NPR's deputy managing editor of investigations, called the project an "unprecedented moment in journalism" in terms of the number of people involved and the amount of content produced. The joint effort resulted in an episode of Frontline, a series of NPR stories and a number of online and print pieces by ProPublica and Californian Watch.

Lozano discussed some of the challenges the people working on the project faced, some of them generalising to co-operative journalistic endeavours in general. She sees collaborating as a different form of journalistic work that comes with different kinds of challenges, making it "exciting, promising and a little messy."

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2011-04-27 18:47

The 2011 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, April 18, and for the first time, a web-only piece won one of the coveted awards.

Other peculiarities this year included the fact that no newsroom dominated the Prizes - 11 split 13 awards between them - as Poynter underlined. And despite the jury recommending three finalists, the Pulitzer Board decided not to award any news organization for the Breaking News Reporting category.

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times won two prizes each, and surprisingly the investigative report award went to Paige St. John of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for a property insurance investigation.

Author

Federica Cherubini's picture

Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-19 14:00

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