Tag Archives: mashups

Data journalism pt5: Mashing data (comments wanted)

This is a draft from a book chapter on data journalism (part 1 looks at finding data; part 2 at interrogating datapart 3 at visualisation, and 4 at visualisation tools). I’d really appreciate any additions or comments you can make – particularly around tips and tools.

UPDATE: It has now been published in The Online Journalism Handbook.

Mashing data

Wikipedia defines a mashup particularly succinctly, as “a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service.” Those sources may be online spreadsheets or tables; maps; RSS feeds (which could be anything from Twitter tweets, blog posts or news articles to images, video, audio or search results); or anything else which is structured enough to ‘match’ against another source.

This ‘match’ is typically what makes a mashup. It might be matching a city mentioned in a news article against the same city in a map; or it may be matching the name of an author with that same name in the tags of a photo; or matching the search results for ‘earthquake’ from a number of different sources. The results can be useful to you as a journalist, to the user, or both.

Why make a mashup?

Mashups can be particularly useful in providing live coverage of a particular event or ongoing issue – mashing images from a protest march, for example, against a map. Creating a mashup online is not too dissimilar from how, in broadcast journalism, you might set up cameras at key points around a physical location in anticipation of an event from which you will later ‘pull’ live feeds: in a mashup you are effectively doing exactly the same thing – only in a virtual space rather than a physical one. So, instead of setting up a feed at the corner of an important junction, you might decide to pull a feed from Flickr of any images that are tagged with the words ‘protest’ and ‘anti-fascist’. Continue reading

Online Journalism lesson #10: RSS and mashups

This was the final session in my undergraduate Online Journalism module (the other classes can be found here), taught last May. It’s a relatively brief presentation, just covering some of the possibilities of mashups and RSS, and some tools. The majority of the class is taken up with students using Yahoo! Pipes to aggregate a number of feeds.

I didn’t know how students would cope with Yahoo! Pipes but, surprisingly, every one completed the task.

As a side note, this year I kicked off the module with students setting up Twitter, Delicious and Google Reader – and synchronising them, so the RSS feed from one could update another (e.g. bookmarks being published to Twitter). This seems to have built a stronger understanding of RSS in the group, which they are able to apply elsewhere (they also have widgets on their blogs pulling the RSS feeds from Twitter & Delicious; and their profile page on the news website – built by Kasper Sorensen – pulls the latest updates from their Twitter, Delicious and blog feeds).

Fair use and copyright in the UK – how different is it? (comment call)

There’s a fabulous post over at the Center for Social Media on when using copyrighted material in video comes under fair use. If the work is ‘transformative’ then there’s a strong case for fair use. Examples include:

  1. Adding satirical subtitles, fan tributes, parody, critique
  2. Using copyright material for illustration of example (e.g. stages in a star’s career)
  3. Accidental capture – e.g. music playing in the background while someone dances (if unstaged)
  4. Documenting an event or experience, e.g. presence at a concert
  5. Mashups, remixes or collages that create new meaning from old material

But of course this is all under American law. My question is: how far do these same examples go under UK law? I’d love to know your experiences and interpretations.

How to create a custom meta-search in Yahoo! Pipes

Here’s another tutorial on the mashup platform Yahoo! Pipes, showing how you can use it to create a meta-search that will push any search term by the user through a number of search engines, and present you with a combined result (and RSS feed). A finished version of the pipe can be seen here.

This tutorial builds on a previous post I published on how to create basic mashups with Yahoo! Pipes. If you haven’t any knowledge of Pipes you should probably read that first.

How to create a custom meta-search in Yahoo! Pipes

First, you obviously need to log in to Yahoo! Pipes, and click on Create a Pipe. You’ll be taken to the Pipe editing interface: on the left will be a menu with a series of sections (User Input, Url, Operators, etc.) to choose modules from. In the centre will be the canvas where you create your pipe – and at the bottom a ‘Debugger’ area where you can see the results of any particular part of your pipe.

In the area on the left, under the ‘User Input’ section, click on the ‘Text Input‘ module and drag it onto the canvas (or you can click on the + sign for it to be placed for you).

Select the Text Input module

Select the Text Input module

In the box marked ‘Prompt’ type the instruction text for users of the pipe, e.g. ‘What do you want to search for?’. If there’s a default search you want to have appear in the search box to begin with, enter it in the box marked ‘Default’. Continue reading

Maps on news websites – an overview

The following is part of a chapter for a forthcoming book on online journalism. Contributions welcome.

Maps have become a familiar part of the news language online due to a number of advantages:

  • They provide an easy way to grasp a story at a glance
  • They allow users to drill down to relevant information local to them very quickly
  • Maps can be created very easily, and added to relatively easily by non-journalists
  • Maps draw on structured data, making them a very useful way to present data such as schools tables, crime statistics or petrol prices
  • They can be automated, updating in response to real-time information

News organisations have used maps in a number of ways: Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt6: “How to fund quality local journalism”

The following is the last part of a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. We will be submitting the whole – along with blog comments – to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. This post, by Alex Lockwood, looks at:

“How to fund quality local journalism”

The bottom has fallen out of the traditional publishing business model–and with it goes the hefty dividends expected by shareholders (e.g. £48.4m in 2008 for the Trinity Mirror Group). The future of local quality journalism can only remain with the current crop of regional newspaper publishers if they radically change their expectations, and innovate.

That might not happen. If it doesn’t, they will die off, and the future of quality local journalism will take a huge – but not definitive – blow. Then the future lies with new initiatives and the local communities themselves – passionate and entrepreneurial people, only some of whom will be journalists. What about local council initiatives to publish newspapers and local information? That’s not the way to go – covered in Part 3.

But how to fund it? Here are eight suggestions for the future of local journalism funding: Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt3: Should councils publish newspapers? A response to the Media Committee

As part of a group response to  the government‘s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Paul Bradshaw looks at the role of local authorities in regional journalism. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well as the blog posts.

So. The Committee for Culture, Media and Sport want responses on “The appropriateness and effectiveness of print and electronic publishing initiatives undertaken directly by public sector bodies at the local level”

The question of what public sector bodies should be allowed to publish, how that affects local journalism, the local economy, and local democracy, is one of the most difficult to resolve – not least because it involves so many interconnected elements.

The first problem is that any discussion runs the risk of conflating a number of separate but interlinked elements:

  • local councils and local democracy are not the same thing; 
  • local newspapers and local journalism are also two different things.

Whatever model emerges must recognise that papers are not the only places where public discussion takes place, and print journalists are not the only people holding power to account.

Continue reading

Maps, mashups and multimedia: online journalism students tackle interactivity

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

As a new semester begins it seems a good time to finally post about how my second year journalism degree students approached the ‘interactive’ element of their portfolio way back in May (yes, everything they do is interactive, but bear with me).

For the first time I gave them an open brief in terms of what they did interactively (in previous years I asked them to produce Flash interactives). Having been taught how to create everything from audio slideshows and image maps to multimedia interactives, Google Maps and Yahoo! Pipes mashups, I was curious to see what they would pick. Would they all plump for the same option? Continue reading

Dutch site reinvents what news looks like online

Recently my attention has been drawn to the Dutch news website www.en.nl. Wilbert Baan, interaction designer for the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, told me he wants to see “what we can do with news, social networks, wikis and more.

“I think you might like the experiment we are doing,” he wrote.

And bloody hell was he right. Continue reading