Rebuilding the online local story – MA by practice (Final project)

(Above, previous work editing a Birmingham Mail’s story)

My proposal for MA by practice consists of creating a prototype of how online local story must be. This prototype is based on a deep report in which I will analyse how the current local news site are managing their resources to produce stories and what content they are offering to their audiences. So, I will deliver these two main things:

  • Local story made of interactive content and using a language and content based in my report
  • Report on current situation of local news sites, analysing strengths and weaknesses, and also checking out what new trends work in news, trying to answer the question: “How is the real native online story?”

Working with a professional framework

I am trying to give a professional framework to my prototype, to do so, I will involve a news site that which already exists. This would add real information on what resources are available, improving the quality of my report and also the prototype itself.

In the prototype, I will include “low-cost” interactive content and multimedia, with the aim to demonstrate that building the news of tomorrow is not expensive and exclusive. Nowadays, practices as data journalism, interaction, visualisations and mobile journalism become democratic in order to improve the content produced by journalists. I will also explore the coding world to demonstrate that journalists can use it.

CLICK to see how much time left I have.

CLICK to see how much time left I have (made with JavaScript)

Further information – What is my approach like?

My approach to this final project consists in two backbones: theory and practice. So during the first phase, I will gather as much information as I can in order to elaborate a report. I count now with many sources related to new ways of communication and journalism in local journalism, but also I will compile information from the main local news site which work in the UK to detect mistakes but also good practices.

Later in this part, I will have a look to concepts such as CRAP (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity), how the story is showed, how the user’s view works (EyeTrack), inverted pyramid in online news, multimedia offer in local stories, interactivity and social media usage on news.

I am also improving my knowledge in JavaScript and jQuery. The technical part of this project depends on my own learning process dealing with language coding.

But, what will I do after getting better on coding? I will elaborate a local story using my knowledge and working from the field but also gathering data through data sets, FOI requests and other additional resources I have learned to use during all this process.

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Tutorial: Grabbing Data Using Google refine to Create Interactive Maps

When you think of creating a map which shows different locations, your first step must be getting langitude and longitude. Throughout Google refineavailable here– you can clean data and then, using a service as CartoDB, create an interactive map.

Google and Open Street Map offer free APIs

The video above -made by myself- talks about the importance of the Application Program Interface (API). This service is run by companies such as Google and Open Street Map, who provide free software. In brief, APIs are a type of database that we call to grab geocoding data.

In Google refine, a spreadsheet cleaner, we request latitude and longitude. The function we need is not always the same. It depends on the software:

For Google’s API:

"http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?&sensor=false&address=" + escape(value, "URL")

For Open Street Map’s API:

"http://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/search?" + "format=json&" + "q=" + escape(value, "url")

CartoDB and Google Fusion Tables

CartoDB is just one of many services in which you can change your spreadsheets into interactive maps. You may have problems trying to embed these maps using WordPress.

Some of the dirtiest restaurants in Birmingham. Source: Food Standards Agency

CLICK ON IT: Some of the dirtiest restaurants in Birmingham. Source: Food Standards Agency

Google Fusion Tables is probably the simplest one but also the more used app as well. In fact, you do not need any geocoding data, because the location is enough for this app.

CLICK ON IT. Source: Food Standards Agency

CLICK ON IT. Source: Food Standards Agency