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Posts Tagged ‘data’

Fifteen Journalism-Related Panels for SXSW Interactive 2012

SXSW Interactive 2012Earlier this week, the colossal film, interactive, and music festival known as SXSW announced the opening of the 2012 SXSW PanelPicker, a community-driven voting portal that allows people to vote on panels which they wish to see at the upcoming conference. The PanelPicker votes and comments comprise 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot, with the SXSW Staff and SXSW Advisory Board accounting for 30% and 40% respectively. Voting is open from now until 11:59pm CT on Friday, September 2, 2011.

For those of you who may not be familiar with SXSW, here’s a brief video from SXSW that gives an overview of the conference:

While there are three distinct portions of the conference, SXSW Interactive offers the most diverse group of topics, especially for journalists. Currently, there are over 50 journalism-related panels up for voting in the PanelPicker. I’ve culled through them all, and here are fifteen which I think would be great for journalists of all kinds. Each panel description also includes a link to vote for the panel on the PanelPicker (voting does require registering for a free PanelPicker account).

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Establish Important Social Media Metrics Early On

It’s been said that social media ultimately boils down to a numbers game.

Getting the most Likes on a Facebook page, or lots of re-tweets being seen as an indicator of success or failure

I would argue that for personal use, numbers have little to do with getting the most out of the platforms. You get what you put in. Your social media profiles ultimately become whatever you want them to be.

However for business, numbers mean everything. Not in the sense of trying to get Likes or Followers in hoards. Rather, what I’m talking about are metrics of success.

Social media analytics and insights are critcally important to understanding how a social media campaign is resonating with customers and users.

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A Data Visualization of U.S. Newspaper History

A few weeks ago, I shared a link to the coolest way to visually see what’s news around the world. Now, here comes an interesting way to see what was news. Well, rather, who was covering the news and when in the U.S. It’s a data visualization of newspapers past. And it’s pretty cool, if somewhat depressing.

The Rural West Initiative at Standford University created the map by plotting the U.S. Library of Congress catalog of newspapers (140,000 publications??) over time and space. These are the results (click to see the real maps).

Through the sidebar content as you scroll through the timeline, you get a feel for the different “eras” of newspapering, from the colonies to the frontier to yellow journalism and merger mania. It’s actually somewhat encouraging to read about the journalism crises of decades/centuries past. Being a journalist these days can see like you’re in the worst of times, but really, newspapers and journalism is just constantly evolving, and as you see in the map, it ebbs and it flows.

If nothing else, you’ll find interesting bits of local history when you zoom in and discover who was covering your town. You might be surprised how many newspapers small cities used to support.

(Found via Freakonomics blog.)

7 Places To Look For Database Journalism Stories

There’s a joke in reporting that one person’s an anecdote and three’s a trend. It’s not really funny, though, because too many stories rely on this metric to prove something’s happening or happened. There’s a better way, it just takes some digging, maybe a FOIA request, and some minimum database skills (which is another topic, but if you’re really serious look into IRE’s training or if you’re still in school, take a computer-assisted reporting course, which your school ought to require).

By analyzing databases on topics on your beat you can find the real trends and back it up with statistics. Your job as a journalist is to make those numbers and statistics meaningful. (But don’t force the story, sometimes the data doesn’t support your hypothesis. It hurts, but it happens.)

Here are a few places you can find data that will help you support your stories with facts instead of trends.

Data.gov —This site will probably just overwhelm you with the sheer quantity of information. The hard part will be picking through what’s there for what’s relevant. But you can find some interesting federal government data, including everything from military marriage trends to consumer spending to climate change, if you dig. You can sort by the type of data, the department that collected it, the category, location, topic, and more. At least try a few searches to see what’s what — and whether it leads to or fits in any of your stories.

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Tools of the Day: Sparktweets and Chartwell

Two neat data visualization tools recently came on the scene which will be a great help for journalists and datamongers alike: Sparktweets and Chartwell.

Sparktweets is the brainchild of Zach Seward, Outreach Editor for The Wall Street Journal. Sparktweets builds on Edward Tufte’s invention, the sparkline, which is a small, high-resolution graph embedded in a context of words, numbers, or images. You see these mostly used on financial websites to describe the rise and fall of stocks, but Sparktweets takes this idea and builds on it by embedding Unicode histograms within Twitter’s 140-character limit. The effect is pretty neat. Take a look at these.

Sparktweets in @WSJ: ▇▆▆▇▇▇▇▅▂▁▁▂ Last 12 months of the U.S. unemployment rate http://bit.ly/mex1kyless than a minute ago via Sprout Social Favorite Retweet Reply


▁▆▇▃ Number of baby boys named Barack, 2007-2010. (5,52,69,28) #sparktweetless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Create your own Sparktweets here: http://www.datacollective.org/sparkblocks.html


The second tool I came across recently is a font called Chartwell from font designer Travis Kochel with TK Type. Creating pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs has never been so simple. Just type your data numbers into an equation and you can have a graph in just a few seconds. In line with current trends, you can also embed the use of this font using the CSS3 property @font-face to create live charts on the fly (currently, this only works in Firefox 4). Travis includes more information on the Chartwell page at http://www.tktype.com/chartwell.php.

Chartwell Pie ChartsChartwell Pie Charts

Chartwell Line Charts

The fonts are $15 each (pie, bar, or line), or $40 for the entire set.

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