Tag Archives: france

Two pieces of information

Two pieces of information that came to my attention today:

Firstly, from a piece of research on aspiring journalists in France:

“Students from the least privileged social sectors are more socially committed and more aware of their civic responsibility: These students want “to reveal cases of corruption, show realities that are unknown to the general public, and to do investigative journalism”.

“The students belonging to disadvantaged social classes value the profession of journalism the most, and have a culture of effort and selflessness, which has been inherited from their families. The force lifting the social elevator to access an intellectual profession like journalism is their constant effort. They consider journalism to be a “useful and noble” profession. They have a more romantic and social view of the profession: they want to be a real communication channel for the village people, the forgotten, and the voiceless … However, these students practice self-censorship by not working in recognised and prestigious media, unlike the students from more privileged social classes who do so because they have greater social capital and contacts in the profession of journalism thanks to their families.”

Secondly, from a number of sources on Twitter:

“Independent.co.uk is offering a rare opportunity to an aspiring young journalist. We’re looking for an exceptionally motivated, intelligent and organised undergraduate with a passion for our brand, the world of news, and student life, to come and gain work experience within our Digital team for three months this summer 2013.

“You must be able to work from Monday 17 June through to 30 August 2013. This is work experience, so it is not a paid opportunity, but your travel and lunch expenses will be covered. You will need to provide a letter from your university, confirming that this work experience placement is beneficial and supports your course.”

Over to you.

News:rewired – Interview with Nicolas Kayser-Bril

French data journalist Nicolas Kayser-Bril (and former OJB contributor) gave the keynote speech at news:rewired. He used to work for OWNI, but since 2011 has been the CEO of Journalism++, a start-up that ‘accompanies newsrooms in their transitions towards the web of data’.

During his presentation he tried to explain the first steps that anyone interested in this area should follow to start producing stories, like building a datastore.

After the speech we had a quick chat with him about the importance of introducing data in newsrooms, the situation in France (where he feels data journalism is very dynamic – “a lot of people are doing stuff, like in Liberátion or Le Monde”) and the skills that a journalist should have to get started. “There are some stories nowadays that require the use of data intensely,” he says. “Especially when it comes into public policies.”

“As a data journalist you need curiosity and the ability to teach yourself: the basic skills of any journalist.”

A War Logs interactive – with a crowdsourcing bonus

Owni war logs interface

French data journalism outfit Owni have put together an impressive app (also in English) that attempts to put a user-friendly interface on the intimidating volume of War Logs documents.

The app allows you to filter the information by country and category, and also allows you to choose whether to limit results to incidents involving the deaths of wounding of civilians, allies or enemies.

Clicking on an individual incident bring up the raw text but also a mapping of the location and the details split into a more easy-to-read table. Continue reading

Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at Owni.fr

Past OJB contributor Nicolas Kayser-Bril is now in charge of datajournalism at Owni.fr, a recently launched news site that defines itself as an “open think-tank”.

“Acting as curators, selecting and presenting content taken deep in the immense and self-expanding vaults of the internet,” explains Nicolas, “the Owni team links to the best and does the rest.”

I asked Nicolas 2 simple questions on his work at Owni. Here are his responses:

What are you trying to do?

What we do is datajournalism. We want to use the whole power of online and computer technologies to bring journalism to a new height, to a whole new playing field. The definition remains vague because so little has been made until now, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to slideshows, online TV or even database journalism.

Take the video game industry, for instance. In the late 1970’s, a personal computer could be used to play Pong clones or text-based games. Since then, a number of genres have flourished, taking action games to 3D, building an ever-more intelligent AI for strategy games, etc. In the age of the social web, games were quick to use Facebook and even Twitter.

Take the news industry. In the late 1970’s, you could read news articles on your terminal. In the early 2010’s you can, well… read articles online! How innovative is that? (I’m not overlooking the innovations you’ll be quick to think of, but the fact remains that most online news content are articles.)

We want to enhance information with the power of computers and the web. Through software, databases, visualizations, social apps, games, whatever, we want to experiment with news in ways traditional and online media haven’t done yet.

What have you achieved?

We started to get serious about this in February, when I joined the mother company (22mars) full-time. In just a month, we have completed 2 projects

The first one, dubbed Photoshop Busters (see it here), gives users digital forensics tools to assess the authenticity of an image. It was made as a widget for one of our partners, LesInrocks.com.

More importantly, we made a Facebook app, Where do I vote? There, users can find their polling station and their friends’ for the upcoming regional election in France.

It might sound underwhelming, but it required finding and locating the addresses of more than 35,000 polling stations.

On top of convincing a reluctant administration to hand over their files, we set up a large crowdsourcing effort to convert the documents from badly scanned PDFs to computer-readable data. More than 7,000 addresses have been treated that way.

Dozens of other ideas are in the works. Within Owni.fr, we want to keep the ratio of developers/non-developers to 1, so as to be able to go from idea to product very quickly. I code most of my ideas myself, relying on the team for help, ideas and design.

In the coming months, we’ll expand our datajournalism activities to include another designer, a journalist and a statistician. Expect more cool stuff from Owni.fr.

More 21st century newsroom ideas: the Google Newsroom

The Google Newsroom

The Google Newsroom

Here’s a new contribution to the ‘Model for a 21st Century Newsroom’ concept: the Google Newsroom, by Benoît Raphaël. Based on his experience as editor in chief at Le Post, Raphael makes a number of salient points about reorganising the newsroom in a digital age. He suggests that “we have to forget that old idea of merging newsrooms” and create “one “where everything happens,” that is to say on the web. This is the heart of information system. The rest is just appearance.” Continue reading

France: Blogs are dead. Now they’re called ‘the media’

France is currently paralyzed by yet another strike. Unlike the ones you’re used to when visiting my country, usually from railway or airport staff, this one was launched by lawyers and judges alike, united against their government minister, Rachida Dati (read more here).

Traditional journalists have been covering the event as it unfolded. Google News brings you more than 300 bland and unsurprising articles.

The only place where you can read what’s going on in France’s judicial system is a blog. Maître Eolas, a lawyer who opened his blog 4 years ago, just published 64 testimonies from justice professionals. He even renamed his blog ‘Daily news from angry justice professionals’. Continue reading

Rue89: “Advertising is out of reach”

Over at sister blog JournalismEnterprise.com there’s an interview with Rue89 co-founder Pierre Haski. Rue89, a French news website, “doesn’t live off advertising. The cash flows from 4 sources:” Website design (50%), advertising, third-party services, and contributions from users (the tip-jar model). “The ad money is “out of reach” for a mid-sized player such as Rue89 and “it’s unclear if it will be in the future”.”

Read the full post (by Nicolas Kayser-Bril) here. We’re always planning other interviews – if you want to conduct one for JournalismEnterprise.com, let me know.