Author Archives: Barbara Maseda

Text-as-data journalism? Highlights from a decade of SOTU speech coverage

January 2012: The National Post’s graphics team analyzes keywords used in State of the Union addresses by presidents Bush and Obama / Image: © Richard Johnson/The National Post

January 2012: The National Post’s graphics team analyzes keywords used in State of the Union addresses by presidents Bush and Obama / Image: © Richard Johnson/The National Post

In a guest post for OJB, Barbara Maseda looks at how the media has used text-as-data to cover State of the Union addresses over the last decade.

State of the Union (SOTU) addresses are amply covered by the media —from traditional news reports and full transcripts, to summaries and highlights. But like other events involving speeches, SOTU addresses are also analyzable using natural language processing (NLP) techniques to identify and extract newsworthy patterns.

Every year, a new speech is added to this small collection of texts, which some newsrooms process to add a fresh angle to the avalanche of coverage.

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What do journalists do with large amounts of text?

books

Photo: Pixabay

Barbara Maseda is on a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship project at Stanford University, where she is working on designing text processing solutions for journalists. In a special guest post she explains what she’s found so far — and why she needs your help.

Over the last few months, I have been talking to journalists about their trials and tribulations with textual sources, trying to get as detailed a picture as possible of their processes, namely:

  • how and in what format they obtain the text,
  • how they find newsworthy information in the documents,
  • using what tools,
  • for what kinds of stories,

…among other details.

What I’ve found so far is fascinating: from tech-savvy reporters who write their own code when they need to analyze a text collection, to old-school investigative journalists convinced that printing and highlighting are the most reliable and effective options — and many shades of approaches in between.

What’s your experience?

If you’ve ever dug a story out of a pile of text, please let me know using this questionnaire. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used more or less sophisticated tools to do it.

Here are a few reasons and incentives to contribute: Continue reading

Snapchat para periodistas: una guía pensada para la redacción

spanish-screenshots-snapchat

¿Cómo producir contenido noticioso para Snapchat? ¿Es posible calcular estadísticas de audiencia? ¿Qué sentido tiene invertir recursos y tiempo en producir contenido que va a desaparecer en 24 horas? Estas y otras preguntas aparecen respondidas en “Snapchat para periodistas”, una guía que detalla cada uno de los recursos de esta red social y cómo aprovecharlos en estrategias de publicación.

El libro, escrito por el periodista y profesor británico Paul Bradshaw, incluye muchos ejemplos de las cuentas de Snapchat de medios de Estados Unidos y Reino Unido, como el Huffington Post, la BBC, The New Yorker, CBS, Fusion y Mashable, entre otros.

La traducción al español incluye algunas capturas de pantalla de canales de medios latinoamericanos, además de las del original. Aunque el uso de Snapchat no está tan extendido en redacciones de habla hispana, hay algunos medios que mantienen cuentas, como Perú 21 y Todo Noticias (Argentina).

Además de ilustrar buenas prácticas, los ejemplos también documentan una parte de la historia de los usos de la plataforma –que puede ser útil especialmente para quienes no lleven mucho tiempo usándola.

El texto cubre todas las opciones técnicas (grabación de video y sonido, edición de texto, uso de lápices y filtros, etc.); estrategias de producción y diseño narrativo; almacenamiento de estadísticas de audiencia; algunos consejos útiles para construir una red de amigos; y otras funcionalidades más sofisticadas para usuarios avanzados.

Paul Bradshaw es autor de varios libros sobre periodismo, incluyendo otros dos disponibles en español: “Excel para periodistas” y “Periodismo de datos: un golpe rápido”.

Those Android Trump tweets: David Robinson on using text data to get an election scoop

Washington Post story tweet

Data scientist David Robinson was behind one of the most striking data stories of this US election season, when his analysis of Donald Trump tweets appeared to confirm that Trump was posting the angriest comments on that account (jointly managed by his campaign staff). Barbara Maseda spoke to Robinson about the story behind that text analysis and what comes next. 

It was August 9 when David Robinson published his analysis of Trump tweets on his blog. Robinson had used a series of libraries in the programming language R to collect, clean, process and visualise the data. The process took just 12 hours, from Saturday night through Tuesday morning.

In the following days, the piece would be re-posted and cited by multiple websites, including The Washington Post and Mashable. The original piece alone had hundreds of thousands of views in just a few days.

The result wasn’t just one election story, but one of the biggest indications yet of the potential of text analysis for journalists, with three takeaways in particular: Continue reading

VIDEO: FOI tips from Matt Burgess

In a guest post for OJB, Anna Noble interviews FOI expert Matt Burgess.

In just 4 years Matt Burgess has already built up an impressive reputation in the media industry. The founder of FOI directory, a site which covers FOI policy, curates the best FOI stories, and provides directories of FOI emails, and the author of a book on the subject, his journalistic career has ranged from a local press agency and a crowdsourcing project to specialist publishing, and now technology bible Wired. Continue reading

The passing of Hurricane Patricia through Mexico – as told by hashtags

#Patricia started shyly trending in Mexico on Wednesday, October 21st, when it was simply one more tropical storm in the 2015 Pacific hurricane season.

By the end of the day it was 49th on the list of Twitter trending topics among Mexican users – who like many people around the world were busy celebrating #BackToTheFutureDay.

In the days that followed, however, the storm evolved into a terrifying category 5 hurricane that hit Mexico late on Friday, October 23, generating all kinds of interest, as the following graph from Google Trends shows:

hurricane patricia google trends - Spanish

Google search for terms linked to Patricia in Spanish: tropical storm (blue) and hurricane (red). Info: Google Trends.

These are some of the highlights of what happened on social media during the hurricane days: Continue reading

NICAR launches list for Spanish speaking journalists

Screenshots of La Nacion, ICIJ

The list already boasts journalists from some of the leading data journalism projects in Latin America

A new data journalism mailing list for Spanish speakers has been launched by The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) and its parent organisation, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), reports Barbara Maseda.

NICAR-ESP-L, as it is called, seeks to be the Spanish version of NICAR-L, a mailing list in English that has been active for over 20 years. Continue reading