Tag Archives: algorithms

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

Don’t blame Facebook for your own filter bubble

As the UK worked through the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union, Tom Steinberg found himself frustrated. “I am actively searching through Facebook for people celebrating the Brexit leave victory,” he wrote. But to no avail. He called on his friends in the technology industry to act on this ‘echo-chamber problem’.

A day later someone else I know – a former journalist now working in the tech sector – expressed the same frustrations — on Facebook, naturally. It seems we have a problem.

At the time of writing Steinberg’s tweet has been retweeted almost 4,000 times. Clearly there is a desire for connection – and yet…

Why are they making the demand of social media companies — and not news organisations? Continue reading

FAQ: Do you need new ethics for computational journalism?

This latest post in the FAQ series answers questions posed by a student in Belgium regarding ethics and data journalism.

Q: Do ethical issues in the practice of computational journalism differ from those of “traditional” journalism?

No, I don’t think they do particularly – any more than ethics in journalism differ from ethics in life in general. However, as in journalism versus life, there are areas which attract more attention because they are the places we find the most conflict between different ethical demands.

For example, the tension between public interest and an individual’s right to privacy is a general ethical issue in journalism but which has particular salience in data journalism, when you’re dealing with data which names individuals.

I wrote about this in a book chapter which I’ve published in parts on the blog. Continue reading