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.
There’s a persuasive argument being made by Francis Irving and Rufus Pollock in a joint blog post about the growth of data management systems – the ‘DMS’ to content management systems’ ‘CMS’:
“Just as then we wrote HTML in text files by hand and uploaded it by FTP, now we analyse data on our laptops using Excel, and share it with friends by emailing CSV files.
“But it reaches the point where using the filesystem and Outlook as your DMS stretches to breaking point. You’ll need a proper one.
“Nobody really knows what a proper one will look like yet. We’re all working on it.”
Their post lists what a DMS needs to do and the companies already trying to solve the ‘DMS problem’ from different directions: a list which includes Google Docs (“coming from the web spreadsheet direction”), the data social network BuzzData, visualisation tool Tableau, data marketplaces, operating systems, Scraperwiki, and PANDA (“making a DMS for newsrooms”)
It’s a well-drawn picture from an angle which I haven’t seen before. Certainly, a number of news organisations are trying to reduce the friction of producing content for different platforms by ‘atomising’ it in data-driven production processes (where a piece of content might be assembled and presented differently depending on the platform it is accessed through, for example), and their internal systems can probably be added to the list above.
What do you think? Is this a problem that’s being addressed in your own organisation?
As you have probably worked out, this year’s Online Journalism students have been building up towards launching an environmental news website. This week the site went public, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned so far…
The site is the final year project of two final year journalism degree students – Azeem Ahmad and Rachael Wilson. The decision was made to launch an environmental site because of the increase of investment in this area from a number of news organisations, and also because of a local connection – more of which later.
Azeem is responsible for the more technical side of the site, which he has built from scratch using the open source content management software Joomla.
Rachael has the responsibility for editorial, which means writing for the site herself, but more importantly managing 14 second year students on the Online Journalism module as they try to build a news site on a subject most have never written about. She’s also been blogging her experiences.
Week One: Choosing a name, assigning beats, making connections
After some cheesy brainstorming, the very literal name ‘Environmental News Online‘ was chosen for the site for the simple reasons of search engine optimisation and domain name availability. The abbreviation ‘ENO’ lent it more character. Continue reading →