2016 was the year of the bot — here’s a brief history of how they have been used in journalism

Robot gif

2016 was the year of the bot in journalism. In this edited extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I outline what bots are, how bots have been used by media organisations from early Twitter bots to the recent wave of ‘chatbots’, and some tips and tools for getting started with journalistic bots.

‘Bots’ are ‘robots’ – only on the internet. Without the mechanical body of their physical counterparts, all that leaves is a disembodied computer script, normally created to perform repetitive tasks.

This broad description takes in a whole range of activities, and so the term ‘bot’ is used to talk about very different things in different contexts:

  • In search you might talk about bots used to index webpages, such as the ‘Googlebot’.
  • In finance and commerce you might talk about bots used to monitor information online and respond to it by buying or selling things.
  • And in advertising and politics you might talk about bots being used for nefarious purposes: for example, to make it look like more people are viewing webpages, clicking on adverts, or arguing for a particular candidate.

This article isn’t about any of those.

In the context of journalism and publishing, the term ‘bot’ is normally used to refer to something which users can interact with. Examples include: Continue reading

Snapchat for Journalists now available in Spanish

Snapchat para periodistas libro

My ebook Snapchat for Journalists is now available in Spanish: Snapchat para periodistas.

The new translation also includes specific examples from Spanish language media and journalists using the platform.

A Spanish language blog post by Barbara Maseda, with more details about the translation, can be found here.

Barbara has also translated two of my other books into Spanish: Periodismo de datos: Un golpe rápido (Data Journalism Heist) and Excel para periodistas (Excel for Journalists)

Civio and transparency in Spain: “We fight for public access to data”

Javier de la Vega

Javier de la Vega

Spanish citizens are now a step closer to understanding how power operates in the country, and how decisions affect them, thanks to the work of organisations like Civio fighting for transparency and access to public data. In October their work was recognised with the Gabriel Garcia Marquez award in innovative journalism for their investigations Medicamentalia. In a guest post for OJB, Nuria Riquelme Palazón spoke with Javier de la Vega, one of the members of Civio.

Access to public information, accountability and participatory democracy may have been a reality in many countries for some time — but in Spain they sounded like a utopia. Entrepreneur Jacobo Elosua and computer technician David Cabo decided that this had to change.

The pair used their savings to build an organisation with the intention of serving those active citizens who, like them, believed in transparency: Civio Foundation.

Taking inspiration from organisations like mySociety in the UK, Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile and the Sunlight Foundation in the USA, they began the long process in 2011. Continue reading

Civio y el poder de la transparencia: “Luchamos por el libre acceso a la información en España”

Javier de la Vega

Javier de la Vega

La ciudadanía española se encuentra un paso más cerca de saber como su gobierno y sus políticos hacen qué, cuándo, por qué y, lo más importante, cómo todo esto les afecta. Y este logro ha sido posible gracias al incesante trabajo de organizaciones como Civio, que lucha por una transparencia real y el libre acceso a la información. El esfuerzo de este equipo fue recompensado el pasado octubre con el premio Gabriel García Márquez en Innovación por una de sus últimas investigaciones: Medicamentalia. Nuria Riquelme Palazón ha hablado con Javier de la Vega, uno de los integrantes de Civio.

Acceso a la información pública, rendición de cuentas, democracia participativa… términos que en países como Reino Unido son una realidad desde hace tiempo, en otros como en España sonaban a una utopía descabellada, y esto tenía que cambiar.

Y el cambio empezó cuando Jacobo Elosua (emprendedor) y David Cabo (informático)  juntaron sus ahorros para construir una organización bajo el servicio de aquellos ciudadanos que, como ellos, creen en la transparencia: la Fundación Civio.

Continue reading

Whatever happened to the audio slideshow?

Remember the audio slideshow? Once one of the most compelling editorial formats – and a truly web-native one at that – it is now rare to see them on a news website. And a whole wave of audio slideshow work is starting to disappear from the web.

The page for BBC’s Jazz junctions – riding New York’s A Train now lacks the audio slideshow it once held, while The Guardian is awash with pages showing gaps where a slideshow should be – like After the riots and Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts (both from 2007), error messages about Flash (from 2010 and 2011) – or no pages at all in the case of Shrimp fishing in the Wash or Somalia’s refugee camps.

audio-slideshows-chart new-york-times

A search on the New York Times Chronicle tool shows a spike in mentions of audio slideshows at the end of the last decade. After 2010 they aren’t mentioned at all.

2012 seems to have been the last time audio slideshows were part of the fabric in the UK: most of the work on the Guardian’s Audio Slideshows section is from that year, while it represents the peak of production at the BBC. Here’s just a selection: 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”.

My online journalism Masters course is changing its name. Here’s why

telegraph-newsroom image by alex-gamela

MA student Alex Gamela took this image of the Telegraph newsroom during the first year of the MA

My MA in Online Journalism has a new name: the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism. It’s still a course all about finding, publishing and distributing journalism online. So why the name change?

Well, because what ‘online‘ means has changed.

For the last 18 months I’ve been talking to people across the industry, reflecting on the past 7 years of teaching the MA, and researching the forthcoming second edition of the Online Journalism Handbook. Here, then, are the key conclusions I arrived at, and how they informed the new course design:

1: Adapting to new platforms is a specific skill

In the last few years a significant change has taken place. Journalism is now increasingly ‘native’, playing to the strengths of multiple platforms rather than just using them as promotional ‘channels’. It went from web and social to chat, keeps remembering email, and in the near future will take in cars, the home and other connected devices too. Continue reading