The 2nd edition of Scraping for Journalists is now live

Scraping for Journalists

When I began publishing Scraping for Journalists in 2012, one of the reasons for choosing to publish online was the ability to publish chapters as I wrote them, and update the book in response to readers’ feedback. The book was finally ‘finished’ in 2013 — but earlier this year I decided to go through it from cover to cover and update everything.

The result — a ‘second edition’ of Scraping for Journalists — is now live. Those who bought the first edition on Leanpub will already have access to this version.

The second edition includes new scrapers for different websites, and a new chapter on scraping APIs and handling JSON.

As always, I’ll be continuing to update the book, including any examples from readers (if you’ve used the techniques in the book for a story, I’d love to know about it).

There’s an anonymous chat-to-blogging tool on Telegram – here’s how to use it

secretgram

A new anonymous blogging and commenting bot has appeared on the encrypted chat app Telegram — and it has some interesting potential applications for journalists.

Secretgram “helps you to create a post with anonymous comments in your Telegram channels and groups.” But it also appears to create a post that anyone can comment on anonymously — if they know the URL. Continue reading

Do we need a ‘Best Before End’ on trending stories?

datestamp by wahoo bird

datestamp by wahoo bird

Every so often, an old story finds a new lease of life on a news website thanks to social media and the ‘most read’ stories panel. In the wake of the Paris terror attack, for example, social sharing caused a story about an attack in Kenya to begin trending — many of those sharing it didn’t realise that it had happened seven months earlier.

The problem is a symptom of the permanence of digital information. Old newspaper stories and broadcast bulletins never had to deal with this problem — but those organisations do now.

This week the problem recurred during the UK election campaign, as a video clip of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from last November began trending on the BBC website too. Continue reading

How Trinity Mirror’s Data Unit created the 2015 election interactive ‘Find My Seat’

find my seat election interactive

During the 2015 UK general election the Trinity Mirror Data Unit created a special interactive tool which allowed readers to find out more about their own constituency. The Find My Seat tool was used across all their titles including the national Mirror newspaper as well as the Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail, Manchester Evening News, Newcastle Chronicle and north Wales’s Daily Post. The tool has recently been relaunched for the 2017 election. Patrick Scott (now at the Telegraph) was part of the team behind it — in an interview by Antia Geada, he explains how they did it.
Continue reading

Using Instagram to cover an election: lessons from #wmmayor


During this year’s mayoral elections one of my MA Online Journalism students, Sam Gould, adopted an Instagram-first publishing strategy during the lead up to the vote, and on the day of the count. The results were impressive, taking in profiles, interviews, explainers, and live coverage. But equally interesting for anyone considering a mobile-first approach to elections this year was the workflow, so I thought I’d share some of the key points here. Continue reading

The death knock doesn’t scale

One of the most dreaded assignments in journalism has always been the death knock: the job of knocking on the door of someone affected by tragedy.

In the pre-Internet era, the death knock would typically fall to someone at the local newspaper; and, perhaps, reporters from a news agency or two would also come knocking. In some cases, journalists from the nationals, broadcasters and magazines would arrive too.

It was rarely pretty. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t justified.

Now the nature of the death knock has changed. In web parlance, it has scaled. And the problem is: it doesn’t scale well. Continue reading