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Posts Tagged ‘news apps’

‘Inside’ News App Seeks to Develop ‘World’s Best News Service’

inside“World’s best news service,” eh? Now that is a lofty goal. But it’s one that the team at Inside is shooting toward.

Inside.com, an app and website that presents 1,000 of the day’s most important stories in 300 characters or less (written by the site’s curation team), launched earlier this week to mostly positive reviews among tech and media bloggers. The founder and CEO of Inside, Jason Calacanisset out to create a news reader that would summarize in quick spurts the highest quality news, on any topic, because he’s tired of wasting time on click-bait articles and unsubstantial reporting online.

Calacanis and his team set forth the following guidelines in developing Inside, which they’re calling “sort of like Pandora for news.”

1. It would be mobile — specifically for smartphones
2. It would be real-time
3. It would be fact-filled
4. It would connect folks to the world’s best journalism
5. It would respect the reader’s time

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‘For Journalism’ Wants to Help You Build News Apps, Learn to Code

photo-mainIn the spirit of the animated, multi-faceted debate going on about whether or not journalists should learn how to code, it seems like a good time to help introduce For Journalism, a startup seeking to offer data journalism and programming skills to the journalist of the future.

It’s safe to say which side of the fence For Journalism is on when it comes to the topic of how much technical knowledge writers and reporters should have — they say explicitly that we’re suffering from a “pipeline problem for people with data and programming skills for journalism.”

The project, spearheaded by Dave Stanton, a developer and Poynter technology fellow, provides journalists with curriculum on everything from Ruby on Rails (an open-source coding and programming resource) and Django, to creating meaningful pieces of data for accompanying journalistic work. Courses cost $20 and include an informational e-book, screencasts, code repositories and forums.

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Wibbitz: Turn Text into Video, ‘Readers into Watchers’

Video editors of the world, unite! Wibbitz is a new news application that turns text based articles into short videos using RSS feeds and smart algorithms, complete with natural voice narration and infographics. In five seconds. It’s either the next big thing or the next sign that we’re one step closer to ‘The Fifth Element.”

They’re backed by Horizon Ventures (Spotify, Siri, Summly, among others), so it’s probably both.

The idea behind the technology falls directly in line with the habits of “news snacking” on mobile devices. But don’t publishers have a problem with taking their content and aggregating it? Not really, Wibbitz co-founder Zohar Dayan told me over the phone this week:

Not once they understand our long term vision. Our consumer facing vision is to be a platform that allows third party content providers to produce their own videos out of their own content. It’s mobile friendly and generates higher CPMs, especially with mobile devices.

We all know that producing videos is expensive, and as Dayan notes, “there’s only a certain amount of videos you can produce on a daily basis.” He hypothesizes that on a medium sized website, about 15% of articles have videos, some produced in house, some grabbed from the internet. “We enable them to leverage their own existing content and turn that 15% into 80% percent. Once they understand that, they’re interested in using it on their own platform, and that’s we’re going to enable them to do in the coming months.” Read more

Why should developers work in the newsroom? NYT and ProPublica coders explain

Newsrooms can be stressful places, full of strong personalities, short deadlines and an insatiable news hole. For reporters and editors, they’re stressful for another reason: The on-going uncertainty of when the fun may end and their ride on the journalism merry-go-round will stop while they join the queue of former journalists vying for fewer and fewer news jobs.

Meanwhile, software developers can often have their pick of locations and a plethora of job opportunities to go after. Their skills are in demand in many industries. So why should they bother to take their talents to a corner of the development industry where so often the “developing story” is about its own struggles or layoffs?

Besides the obvious — we need help to make cool news apps to compliment and help build on our stories! — Dan Sinker at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab tracked down six developers working in the news business to get their take on why they wanted to code in the newsroom.

It turns out they’re drawn for similar reasons as the writers and editors: the unpredictable, deadline-driven development atmosphere is fun, and there’s the opportunity to help tell the story and make news and data more meaningful.

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NICAR roundup of data journalism ideas

For those who don’t know, or haven’t seen the flurry of #NICAR12 tweets this past week/end, the best minds in data journalism met in St. Louis for the annual CAR conference put on by IRE and its National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

Between the hashtag and the official blog, you’ll get a good overview of initial impressions and topics covered — from avoiding data dumps in stories to harvesting trends from social media. Chrys Wu, again this year, has done a fabulous job rounding up the multitude of presentations at NICAR.

Here are five of my favorite topics, but I encourage you to bookmark Wu’s page and peruse them all, because there are some awesome ideas and tips there:

  • Human Assisted Reporting — This slideshow presents an “aha idea” that I can’t believe I never thought of: automating tasks beat reporters do regularly with data, and then programming your computer to do simple data analysis automatically. My favorite easy example of this was mining the daily police blotter for trends or keywords (who has the highest bail and what is the bail/the crime? any nurses, teachers, ministers, etc. arrested?)
  • Weathering the Storm: Using data to bolster the traditional weather story — Maybe it’s the nearly four years I spent working as a news reporter at a mid-sized paper and the dozens of weather stories I was forced to work on, but I believe there’s a special place in journo-heaven for anyone who can turn the most over-used story topic into something new and interesting for readers/watchers/listeners. Here’s your ticket to attempting just that.
  • Advanced Excel Tips — Excel is pretty much the program I use the most, and most heavily, on my work computer, after Firefox of course. So this tipsheet from the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s MaryJo Webster is not only a good refresher on bits I know well, but it also includes some great tips on doing things I haven’t quite mastered. From date functions to string functions, this is a solid list that I’ll be saving for future reference, and you should too.
  • How to use election data (and other good stuff to know) — This is actually a round-up from John Keefe of his four presentations, including one on election night and maps and election data without databases. He also covers other interesting topics, including everything you need to know about APIs, using Google Spreadsheets as your backend CMS, and hacking the Census data.
  • Build your first news app with Django — Their first step-by-step tutorial is how to build an interactive poll, with some other getting started resources.

There are many other topics covered, including on some of these same topics, as well as new tools to use and some examples of investigative data journalism at work. What was your favorite element of NICAR this year?

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