Tag Archives: lists

VIDEO PLAYLIST: An introduction to Python for data journalism and scraping

Python is an extremely powerful language for journalists who want to scrape information from online sources. This series of videos, made for students on the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University, explains some core concepts to get started in Python, how to use Colab notebooks within Google Drive, and introduces some code to get started with scraping.

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Twitter’s algorithm changes make it key that journalists take control

For some time now Twitter has been flirting with abandoning the reverse-chronological ordering that attracted so many journalists to the service.

Having already introduced “While you were away…” tweets a year ago, and the curated “Moments” storylines 4 months ago, the suggestion is that it may finally be ready to make the leap to a Facebook-style “what we think you’ll like” timeline.

This may be initially opt-in, but then so, once upon a time, was Facebook’s algorithm.

I’m not one of those old users who are inevitably crying about the death of Twitter. We all change as we get older, and Twitter is no exception: once an always-on special companion, now it is a more occasional big crowd encounter. Continue reading

How do you find useful Twitter accounts? 5 tips for journalists

twitter network bluenose

A Twitter network identified by Bluenose

A version of this post originally appeared on Help Me Investigate Welfare.

Every so often on Help Me Investigate we compile a list* of people on Twitter to follow on particular issues. Here’s how we do it:

1. Search Twitter biographies only

The quickest way to kick off your Twitter list is to search Twitter biographies for users who mention the areas you’re interested in.

Twitter tool FollowerWonk has a facility for searching biographies on the site – make sure you select “search Twitter bios only” from the drop-down menu. Continue reading

Coding for journalists: 10 programming concepts it helps to understand

If you’re looking to get into coding chances are you’ll stumble across a raft of jargon which can be off-putting, especially in tutorials which are oblivious to your lack of previous programming experience. Here, then, are 10 concepts you’re likely to come across – and what they mean.

1. Variables

cat in a box

Variables are like boxes which can hold different things at different times. Image by Wolfgang Lonien.

A variable is one of the most basic elements of programming. It is, in a nutshell, a way of referring to something so that you can use it in a line of code. To give some examples:

  • You might create a variable to store a person’s age and call it ‘age’
  • You might create a variable to store the user’s name and call it ‘username’
  • You might create a variable to count how many times something has happened and call it ‘counter’
  • You might create a variable to store something’s position and call it ‘index’

Variables can be changed, which is their real power. A user’s name will likely be different every time one piece of code runs. An age can be added to at a particular time of year. A counter can increase by one every time something happens. A list of items can have other items added to it, or removed. Continue reading

10 things you can tweet about on Twitter

Don’t worry, I’ll get over this Twitter thing very soon, but for now I want to address all of the ill informed coverage that stifles use of Twitter because it can’t see beyond a) celebrities using it and b) the Facebook-style status update thing.

If you’re struggling to think of what to talk about on Twitter, here are some suggestions: Continue reading

1000 things I’ve learned about blogging – continued

My post on 1000 Things I’ve learned about blogging (actually 100) has attracted some attention, with quite a few people wanting more. So for those who are interested, I’ll be posting further ‘1000 things’ as I learn them via Twitter – you can find them with this search or this RSS feed. I’d love to know your ‘things’, by the way.

Are there really only six essential books on online journalism? {UPDATED}: Now 9

I was looking to draw up a list of ten essential books on online journalism – but it seems to me that there are really only six (updated to 8, September 2010).

Have I missed something? Let me know. In the meantime, here are my six 8 essential reads for online journalists:

  1. For a different angle on the whole shebang: Gatewatching by Axel Bruns: not the most famous of books – perhaps because it is so far ahead of its time. Gatewatching looks at peer to peer publishing, and non-traditional news organisations: the likes of Slashdot, Kuro5hin, and Wikinews, among others. An essential read for an insight into how news reporting can be organised completely differently. See also: Digitizing the News by Pablo Boczkowski.
  2. For an authoritative history: Online News by Stuart Allan: a refreshingly rigorous look at some of the most famous moments in online journalism – Rathergate; 9/11; Drudge. Helps supply the reality behind the mythology. See also: Online Journalism by Jim Hall.
  3. For an essential challenge to your basic journalistic values in the new media age: Online Journalism Ethics by Friend & Singer: poses the questions we should all be asking ourselves, and is brave enough not to supply the answer.
  4. For the definitive guide to citizen journalism: We The Media by Dan Gillmor: doesn’t sit on the wall, but then Gillmor would be the first to point out that objectivity is dead. Not to be confused with the also very good We Media by Bowman & Willis (online only).
  5. For a good introduction to the basics of writing for the web I will obviously now recommend The Online Journalism Handbook by Liisa Rohumaa and I. Also good: Digital Journalism by Mark S. Luckie which brings up to date some of the techniques first introduced in Journalism Online by Mike Ward, which is still worth reading. And Convergence Journalism by Janet Kolodzy and Convergent Journalism by Stephen Quinn focus specifically on multimedia. Also, download Journalism 2.0 (PDF) by Mark Briggs (thanks to Steve Yelvington in the comments for reminding me about this one).
  6. For a guide to interactive storytelling: Flash Journalism by Mindy McAdams: covers the ideas behind good multimedia interactives as well as the practicalities.
  7. ADDED SEP 2010: On community management, 18 Rules of Community Engagement is a great introduction.
  8. ADDED SEP 2010: On the enterprise side of things, Funding Journalism in the Digital Age (reviewed here) is a great introduction to the range of business models and experiments.
  9. ADDED JULY 2011: For a vital grounding in search engine and social media optimisation: The Search by John Battelle, beefed up with Click by Bill Tancer and The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick.

PS: I maintain an ongoing list of useful books for online journalists at My Amazon Associates store. If you’re in the US, you may prefer the Amazon.com version.

UPDATE: It’s very true that blogs are a better source of up to date information and reflection on what’s going on now. Check out Shane Richmond’s list on must-read online journalism posts.