Skip to content


Quotes from #NICAR13

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting’s annual conference, NICAR13, was last weekend, and man, so much information and so many projects were shown. Here are some highlight quotes from the sessions:

“One of the ideas we’re trying to impart in our newsroom is Everything Is Data.” — Tasneem Raja on Smarter interactive Web projects with Google Spreadsheets and Tabletop.js.

“I’m Ben, this is my rant.” — Ben Welsh, in his lightning “talk” about… well, you can watch it here:

“The story’s out there, the computer’s my gun and I’m gonna hunt it and shoot it, shoot it.” — Ben Welsh in that same talkrant.

“What makes the CMS hard to work with is it tries to do everything.” — Heather Billings on Jack Gillum, on Using data to investigate sports

“Beat reporting should accrue data.” — Chris Amico on Building data-driven beats.

“As far as news apps go, now they’re mostly edited, and that’s… new.”
“Everyone likes the power and authority to publish, to hit that button and go boom.”
There are hard questions to ask about news apps: “Is this a story, is this an app, does this actually work? What can we afford to say and what can we not afford to say.” — Derek Willis, on From CAR to News Apps and Back Again.

There’s this “hatred and reverence everyone has for their CMS,” — Matt Waite, on Building data-driven beats.

“When you’re designing a news app you shouldn’t just be thinking ‘what does it look like on the page,’ you should also be thinking ‘How can I spread this around the rest of the site?’” — Jacob Harris on Al Shaw on Brian Boyer on Mobile + DataViz: Friends or frenemies?

“Email is basically like a postcard. If you’ve ever seen your password sent via email, that’s a very bad thing.” — Mike Tigas, on Covert reporting using technology to cover your tracks.

“If you’re cynical, keep being cynical. If you’re not, start being cynical. You cannot trust any report that does not give you the underlying basis for checking whether it’s true or not.” — Jon Fleischaker, KY lawyer, on Legal issues, access and big data.

“It’s a couple of sticks of dynamite and a ticking clock away from freaking someone the fuck out.” — Matt Waite, with his sensor measuring how TSA handled his luggage in his lightning talk.

Posted in Industry. Tagged with , .

Great explanation of the Washington Posts’ Homicide Watch site in CJR:

This is what Clay Shirky wrote about Homicide Watch in this excellent article, WaPo must transform to survive.

A good example of altered process has sprung up in the Post’s back yard: Homicide Watch. The website covers every murder in DC. (Contrast the Post’s embarrassingly selective coverage.) The front page lists breaking news on homicides and updates on existing cases; there is a page for every victim as well (and one for every named assailant). Every update tied to a particular murder is posted on the victim’s page, providing a chronology of the investigation and any subsequent trial. The comments on the victim pages, heartbreaking and vital, serve as a rolling eulogy for one of most murder-prone cities in the country.

Because the content is so intertwined (the pages of multiple victims in the same assault are linked, as are the pages of the victim and the accused), Homicide Watch is more like a database than a news wire; each additional detail posted raises the value of the whole collection, a pattern that copies more from Wikipedia than from the traditional newspaper coverage.

Homicide Watch provides far broader crime coverage than the Post, coverage of clear value to the community, and does so in a way that makes that value cumulative, rather than just spinning out updates on the hamster wheel. In comparison with the Post, though, the most important thing about Homicide Watch is that they do all this with two employees: Laura Amico as the editorial voice, and her husband, Chris, who developed the platform and works part time.

When a two-person outfit can cover such a critical issue better than the reigning local paper, with much less overhead, it’s evidence that doing more with less is possible, but it’s also evidence that this requires far more than reducing expenses. Homicide Watch isn’t just a tight operation (though it is that); it’s a brilliant re-imagining of what it means to be a news outlet.

Posted in Ideas, Snippets. Tagged with , , , , .

What the heck: the still-relevant links I tweeted on @joemurph in 2010

I kept on going last night, and put together the better links I tweeted in 2010:

  1. a good summary of what happens to your database app over time
  2. Oooooooh: JQuery Sparklines
  3. Also, if you think you’re pretty good [at converting hex vals to colors], try this
  4. Ooof — Chicago’s WGN news team gets the continent wrong in its #worldcup coverage
  5. http://five.sentenc.es is “a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less.”
  6. Is Structured Data like Text or like Code?
  7. Here are 3 shell scripts to catch passive voice, weasel words and more
  8. News organizations should think about cooperating not just on stories but on taxonomies
  9. The @WSJ wrote a fascinating (well, to me) piece about who’s making $$$ scraping data on the web
  10. I sent this out to the folk on HackerNews: What would you do with a newspaper-dot-com’s built-in audience?
  11. @michelleminkoff wrote a quality post on structured data and news
  12. A Jeff Jarvis post from 2005, “Journalism 2010″
  13. Here’s a @HackerNews thread talking about the various tools to build charts with javascript and markup
  14. Analyzing data is the future for journalists, says @timberners_lee
  15. Best practice for journalists blogging and/or responding to comments on guardian.co.uk
  16. text snippets on the command line! BOOM!

See 2011′s list of links here.

Posted in Links. Tagged with , , , .

The best of the links I tweeted on @joemurph in 2011

These are the best (read: my favorite) links and things I tweeted on @joemurph last year:

See 2010′s list of @joemurph links here.

Posted in Links. Tagged with , , .

One of my favorite headline rewrites (done by the New York Times)

This article was published in 2010. When it first came online (and ran in print), the headline read:

Study: Real News Comes From Newspapers

The next day, the headline read:

Study Finds That Papers Lead in Providing New Information

Posted in Snippets. Tagged with , , , .

A little bit about the Read Ranker and turning reading articles into a game

This is the email I sent to coworkers introducing the Read Ranker.

You may know about this project I’m working on called Read Ranker — it’s a piece of functionality that turns reading denverpost.com articles into a game — a game where you compete against all the other readers on the site to see who has read the most.

It keeps track of the number of articles (in this draft it’s just articles in the sports section) you’ve read, and lets you know how you compare to the other people on the site right now. As in, there’s a chunk on the website that says “You’ve read 23% of today’s sports articles, which ranks you 782 out of today’s 1,500 readers.”

I’m pushing this live to everyone Thursday. Then, next week, if it goes well, I’ll move it from the sports section into every section.

If you want to take a look at it today here’s the special link that will activate it for you.

-Joe

p.s. If you’ve got better ideas for a name than “Read Ranker,” send it my way.

Posted in Portfolio. Tagged with , , .

Greeley Tribune experiments with turning off article comments

Sunday, the Greeley Tribune turned off article comments on their story for a few weeks:

We’re beginning a test today that will “pause” the reader commenting function on our website. All comments previously posted will be erased and nobody will have the ability to post new comments on stories.

I’m all for experimentation. Telling your loyal commenters that you’ve erased all their previous comments is a sure way to erase that loyalty, however. I don’t know if the Greeley Tribune really did erase all old comments, or, should the Tribune re-activate article comments, if those previous comments would return. That seems worth explaining.

Posted in Comment Love.

Highlights from the bad-word regex list I’m working on:

Today I put together the first draft of the regular expressions that will filter out bad words in the comments in a future commenting system. The variations are pulled from more than three years of comments + bad words on The Denver Post’s article commenting system.

These are the highlights:

  1. (CHAI|TE?E?A?)[ -]?B.*(A|U).*G.*G?(E.*R|I.*N.*G?|E.*D)?.*S?
  2. d(i|1|\|)ck(less|head|wad|weed)?
  3. (m(o|u)th(a|er))?(F|PH)[aeiouv\-\.\*':@]+.*C?.*K(E?R?S?|I?N?G?|FACE|HEAD)
  4. (jack|bad|dumb|fat)?(a|@).*[\$sz8x].*[\$sz8x].*e?.*(\$|s|z)?
  5. (dip|dog|chicken)?[\$s]?.*h.*[i\|1!-@a]+.*t(ty|t|head|eating)?s?

Posted in On The Job, Snippets. Tagged with , , .

Some people have a hard time getting over “Click Here”-style writing

Example:

For the full interview with Miss Colorado, click the link.

Posted in Snippets.

Quote

The Los Angeles Times reported recently that an estimated 30 reporters had been killed or had gone missing since a government effort began in 2006 to break up the powerful criminal groups. The article followed an extraordinary editorial in a newspaper in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, that appealed to the drug lords to tell it what news they don’t want published. The front-page plea followed the killing of second journalist on the paper’s staff.

From Difference between our news media and others’: 45 words

Posted in Snippets. Tagged with , .