Facing interactivity, a personal reflection: what is next?

During the last few weeks I focused on the interactive practices on the Media. I wanted to know what is happening at this moment, and which tools are popular among journalists.

With the aim of grabbing some ideas and increasing my knowledge on this field, I followed those people and companies who are working on interactivity throughout Twitter and websites.



I also tested some tools by myself: CartoDB, StoryMap JS etc. Some time ago, getting interactivity was something extremely hard for those who were not ‘hackers’ (programmers).

Thanks god, a lot of good samaritans have created powerful and efficient apps which make it much easier than it was.

Despite all these miraculous things, we cannot forget the fundamentals: HTML, CSS and Javascript. Journalists cannot avoid to learn some coding as professor Jeremy Rue said before.

I have checked out some handbooks and websites which let you learn a little bit of this huge universe.

Learning to use space and time in an interactive way

One of the biggest problems as researcher is to know what you are looking for. A lot of things nowadays are considered as “interactive”: social media, feedback, animations, maps, timelines or quizzes are all different aspects of engaging people.

From my perspective, I was not sure about what things I should focus on. So I started with those contents that people normally see on digital newspapers today: maps and timelines.

I started having a look to journalist Alex Gamela’s blog in which I have found some interesting things related to interactivity, but also extra information about timelines. Alex, who is a former student of online journalism at Birmingham City University, had runned a project on timelines in 2010.

He commented some of the main editing tools who were in use at that time. This reading inspired me to figure out which apps are the most popular in 2015.

After publishing the post, I initiated a debate in Twitter to know if journalists normally use the same tools I had mentioned.I did the same with those tools to create maps. At this point, I realised that I would need some extra knowledge on Javascripts and geolocation. With the video below, I tried to explain a bit of this process.

Therefore, I used Open refine, which helps to clean data, in order to use Google Fusion Tables or Carto DB.

Code is unavoidable, but I found JQuery better than Javascript

Prior to this project, I had already had some knowledge on HTML and CSS languages, but I really did not know anything about Javascript. It was the next level.

First at all, I started to check out books like “Javascript in 24 hours” or “Javascript: the definitive guide”, and also doing some free courses on Code School and Code Academy, following journalist Jeremy Rue’s tips:

“Many people often fail to advanced past this point because they find difficulty in applying the lessons to real-world projects. It’s important to have something tangible to build and working toward that goal — and Googling questions often.”

This language is always a challenge. That is the reason I also tried JQuery, whereby I could aproach to coding in a easier way. According to Wikipedia, JQuery works as a “library of pre-written JavaScript which allows for easier development of JavaScript-based applications.”

 Upcoming project: Birmingham24, 24 issues in 24 hours

The good practises I have checked out encourage me to build an interactive story with multimedia contents in which I could put the theory unto practice. Honestly, there are many things related to code I still have to learn. After the first steps on the field, it is time to go further and try to do more complex things.

As my MA award leader Paul Bradshaw suggested, the upcoming elections are a very good opportunity to explore and do something great. In this case, young voters (18-24 years old) could be the perfect public, trying to create a story through 24 issues related to futures policies which will affect youngsters.





Measuring audience’s knowledge through surveys

Although nowadays everybody have an easy access to breaking news, speaking about news knowledge is a completely different thing. Trying to understand our crowd is something basic to know what kind of ways we have to chooseCaptura de pantalla 2014-10-05 a la(s) 16.57.29 during our day by day. The Pew Research Center (PRC), as a very useful source, lets us to know the ultimate trends of the info-comsuption.

Last week, in order to know the Public’s News IQ, they asked to 1,002 adults, 18 years of age or older, who are living in the continental United States. The questions were about national and international most covered issues at that moment. (You can do the survey here!)

Depending on their education level, the survey results show how college graduates know more about the news (average of 6.8 questions correct) than high school graduates (3.7). Furthermore, it seems that republican voters are more informed than democrats (58% vs. 42%).

Related to this report, neither journalist and communicator can forget the importance of knowing public behaviour and the different ways of consuming information. 

PRC is constantly publishing interesting polls and studies about public preferences, like these:

Though an specific audience is not too big (e.g. twitter followers), asking them could be a good research. There are many free tools which lets you to do this:

“Could you control yourself, Media industry?”

Self-regulation is one of the most ethereal things of the Media industry. It seems that many companies are controlling themselves, through own rules and procedures, but is not a real surveillance. As many others recently, Cherwell writer Sian Meaney has spoken about the coverage of nude celebrities photo scandal. He concluded his article on this way: Captura de pantalla 2014-09-30 a la(s) 23.12.50“Unfortunately, rationality tells me that this change in stance is not a watershed in journalistic ethics, but instead a financial move – in the world of journalism it becomes all too apparent that money, not morals, is what makes the world go round”.

Must be the market which bring some light to the industry? According to The Impress project, the answer is “no”. Its founding director, Jonathan Heawood, said: “We know that public interest journalism should be defended and supported at every level. We agree. That is why we are developing plans for an independent self-regulator that protects public interest

journalism, whilst dealing robustly with poor standards of journalism. By showing that journalism is accountable to the public, an independent self-regulator will make it much harder for any Government to meddle with press freedom“.

The IMPRESS Arbitration Scheme is the basis of his project, which is launching actually. They counts with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ support . “Any regulator must be able to offer a service that can deal with legal claims against the press Captura de pantalla 2014-09-30 a la(s) 22.59.33quickly, fairly and cheaply. This agreement makes IMPRESS the first press regulator to offer an arbitration service. It is the next step towards establishing IMPRESS: the Independent Monitor for the Press as a credible press regulator that meets recommendations on independence from politicians and the newspaper industry”, stated Heawood.

“Due to nobody goes to force the press to accept this regulation, I am not sure about the efficacy of this kind of ideas”, MP Dominic Grieve said about IMPRESS yesterday. Possibly, this is a common thought. Simply, a never-ending story.