Tag Archives: book

Free book: social media, online campaigns and polls in the UK election 2015

UK election analysis 2015 report

 

 

A month ago I blogged an extended version of a chapter I was invited to write for an edited collection by the Political Studies Association.

That collection is now out. It features over 70 contributions on everything from the role of social media in the election (including specific focuses on gender and UKIP) and media influence to analysis of reporting and, of course, those polls.

The book is available as a free PDF and a website.

Data journalism ebook now on Amazon’s Kindle Store

Data journalism book Data Journalism Heist

My short ebook Data Journalism Heist is now available on Amazon for Kindle (US link here – also available on other countries’ Amazon sites).

The book is an introduction to data journalism and two simple techniques in particular: finding story leads using pivot tables and advanced filters.

The book also covers useful sources of data, how to follow leads up, and how to tell the resulting story.

You can also buy it from Leanpub, where it’s been live for a couple months now and is available in PDF, mobi and ePub formats. Comments welcome as always.

New ebook now ready! Learn basic spreadsheet skills with Data Journalism Heist

Data journalism book Data Journalism Heist

I’ve written a short ebook for people who are looking to get started with data journalism but need some help.

Data Journalism Heist covers two simple techniques for finding story leads in spreadsheets: pivot tables and advanced filters.

Neither technique requires any formulae, and there are dozens of local datasets (and one international one) to use them on.

In addition the book covers how to follow leads from data, and tell the resulting story, with tips on visualisation and plenty of recommendations for next steps.

You can buy it from Leanpub here. Comments welcome as always.

Web security for journalists – takeaway tips and review

Web security for journalists - book cover

Early in Alan Pearce‘s book on web security, Deep Web for Journalists, a series of statistics appears that tell a striking story about the spread of surveillance in just one country.

199 is the first: the number of data mining programs in the US in 2004 when 16 Federal agencies were “on the look-out for suspicious activity”.

Just six years later there were 1,200 government agencies working on domestic intelligence programs, and 1,900 private companies working on domestic intelligence programs in the same year.

As a result of this spread there are, notes Pearce, 4.8m people with security clearance “that allows them to access all kinds of personal information”. 1.4m have Top Secret clearance.

But the most sobering figure comes at the end: 1,600 – the number of names added to the FBI’s terrorism watchlist each day.

Predictive policing

This is the world of predictive policing that a modern journalist must operate in: where browsing protesters’ websites, making particular searches, or mentioning certain keywords in your emails or tweets can put you on a watchlist, or even a no-fly list. An environment where it is increasingly difficult to protect your sources – or indeed for sources to trust you.

Alan Pearce’s book attempts to map this world – and outline the myriad techniques to avoid compromising your sources. Continue reading

Scraping using regular expressions in OutWit Hub – part 2: special characters, negative matches and more

Regular Expressions slogan t-shirt

Image by Lasse Havelund

In the second part of this extract from Chapter 10 of Scraping for Journalists I recap the basics before discussing techniques to use in looking for patterns in data, and how regex can deal with non-textual characters such as spaces and carriage returns, special characters such as backslashes, and ‘negative matches’. You can find the first part here.

 

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How-to: Scraping ugly HTML using ‘regular expressions’ in an OutWit Hub scraper

Regular Expressions cartoon on xkcd

Regular Expressions cartoon from xkcd

The following is the first part of an extract from Chapter 10 of Scraping for Journalists. It introduces a particularly useful tool in scraping – regex – which is designed to look for ‘regular expressions’ such as specific words, prefixes or particular types of code. I hope you find it useful. 

This tutorial will show you how to scrape a particularly badly formatted piece of data. In this case, the UK Labour Party’s publication of meetings and dinners with donors and trade union general secretaries.

To do this, you’ll need to install the free scraping tool OutWit Hub. Regex can be used in other tools and programming as well, but this tool is a good way to learn it without knowing any other programming. Continue reading