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All posts by Peter Verweij

Peter Verweij
After 30 years of lecturing and training at the School of Journalism at Utrecht in journalism, politics and new media, Peter Verweij, started in 2005 his own company D3-Media, which focuses on the following areas: Production of journalistic content for multimedia media and blogs; Research in the area of new media such as convergence and social network analysis; Training and coaching of journalists and newsrooms about data mining, computer assisted research and reporting, multi media production and digital; Consultancy about newsroom management and work flow in converged newsrooms; Assistance and consultancy using open source software in a journalistic environment story telling.
  • My reasons for buying Samsung’s Gear Fit

    Before the Gear Fit, I was still using an analogue watch. No, not a Rolex or a Philippe Patek which are more pieces of jewelry for showing off than functional devices. I wanted something substantial, I needed something digital. Most smartwatches look awfully ugly, as the screen is too big for my small wrist and too small for all those crowded icons. It was design that won me over, and I fell for the look of the Samsung Gear Fit with its nifty colored straps. Adding to this, it works nicely with my (recently upgraded from a Galaxy S1)...

  • 5 compelling arguments for using R in data journalism

    Data journalists generally use Microsoft Excel for analysing data. Why? Well when you run Windows on your machine, Word will most likely be your text editor and Excel is just there bundled along with it in Microsoft Office. You don’t have to install anything; and it works for making a top-ten, calculating an average or percentages or making a (pivot) table out of your variables. For deeper statistical analysis, SPSS (Statistical Package Social Sciences) is popular, especially when working at universities who have a license for use of the package. There are 5 good reasons for data journalists to...

  • Data journalism is changing the way we report elections: here’s how

    Whenever there’s an election in any democratic country, its — and sometimes the world’s media — goes tends to be put on full alert. That said, traditional reporting is generally limited to the political issues in the campaign and to winners and losers. Data journalism tools open a new perspective, offering the possibility for in-depth reporting and analysis. As renowned professor of journalism Stephen Doig notes, data journalism is something like “social science done on deadline”. As is the case with social sciences, the tools of online journalism are generally freely available online and aren’t so difficult to use. While...

  • What a Californian earthquake can teach us about the future of journalism

    Writing a one column news story using the five Ws and one H — Who, What, Where, When, Why and How — is pretty routine for most journalists. These news stories are not long and are written using a fixed template. You could use this template again; just replace the data for a new story. Can you teach this trick to a computer? Writing by the computer is a matter of using a good algorithm; using certain words in sentences in the paragraph order of the news article. However you have add the data yourself, unless these data come...

  • The 5 minute guide to scraping data from PDFs

    Every data journalist knows the feeling: you’re working on a massive project, you’ve finally found the data… but it is in PDF format. Last month I had a crime reporter from Cape Town in one of my data journalism training sessions, who had managed to get around 60 PDF pages worth of stats out the relevant authorities. She explored and analyzed them by hand, which took days. That set me thinking. The problem can’t be all that uncommon and there must be a good few data journalists out there who could use a quick guide to scraping spreadsheets from PDFs....

  • Meet Crowdynews: the social media news wire every journo should use

    Twitter frequently works as a kind of alarm bell for journalists. Many reporters, for example, follow hashtags like #disaster or #breaking, and receive tweets about an earthquake, a plane crash or riots in a certain city. These tweets mean it can be easier for them to be on a story as it breaks. Additionally, most newspapers and media outlets are already crowdsourcing, that is, using content from the public. That for example is what’s happening when they ask the public to submit photographs or story ideas. The Guardian even has an app for that: the Guardian eyewitness app, currently available...

  • Data journalist? Here’s how to deal with the changes to ScraperWiki

    Scraping is an important tool for data journalists. Sometimes you are lucky, and can download your data or copy-paste them from a website. Bad luck; then the data journalist has to look for heavy tools: a wrench like Outwit Hub could do the job. But if this fails too there is one last resort: the crowbar that is ScraperWiki, where you can code your own scraper. Paul Bradshaw payed much attention to ScraperWiki in his book Scraping for Journalists (check out the Memeburn review). Recently ScraperWiki has been updated and we are not just talking about the look and feel...

  • Aspiring data journalist? This book is a must-read

    It was work in progress, but after almost one year and 40 ‘versions’ later, Paul Bradshaw’s ‘Scraping for journalists‘ is published. Bradshaw is teaching at London City University and the City University at Birmingham, but he is also a respected data journalist and blogger at the Online Journalism Blog. And not without reason. You can order a copy of the work as an e-book, available in PDF, Mobi or Epub formats. Leanpub, where you can obtain a copy, has an interesting concept: it offers all the tools for the production and for the publishing of a book. You can make...

  • Why data driven documentation is the future of online journalism

    Anyone who thinks journalism is not about numbers is wrong. Figures in the newsroom are more important than ever. We live in age where more data is collected than ever and that data will be used for setting policy goals and decision-making. But we also all sit behind computer screens and databases are not rocket science anymore, so if you’re not using data for investigations, you’re missing out. The news is still in text format but tables with figures are playing an increasingly important role. Even something as simple as a press release from the ECB (European Central Bank)...

  • 5 steps to digitizing your old vinyl collection

    Listen up kids, before the digital revolution the typewriter was your word processor, and the record player was your music center. But doing away with your typewriter was always a lot easier than parting with your records. What to do with your collection of big black disks is a question that some have never got round to answering. Some threw them away, others kept their record players, or bought new CDs. These options don’t work for me as I am much too attached to the old records and the memories that accompany them. The answer, of course, is to...

  • Why taxing Google News is a terrible idea for newspapers

    In 2009, Rupert Murdoch famously called Google News and other news search engines, “content kleptomaniacs”, before denying them access to his publications the next year. In September this year, he changed his position and decided that news snippets from his publications should reappear. Of course, traffic was going down, meaning a loss of income. Now new ideas are emerging at the headquarters of cash strapped newspapers. “Couldn’t we start taxing Google and the others for publishing our content by creating an extension of the copyright?” is the musing of media CEOs. By creating a collecting society for Google tax,...

  • How data can save journalism as we know it

    Everybody has a mouthpiece now and social media is facilitating this. News is everywhere and breaking news on the front page has becomes obsolete, because the news is already out on social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Is this also the end of journalism as we know it? Tweeps, bloggers and Facebookers are taking over the role of journalists, but is it quality reporting and professional journalism? Print media at least in the West, is in a bad way: newspapers are closing or merging and journalists are being laid off. The public finds the news on the social media,...

  • Could AR drones be the future of journalism?

    We’ve all read stories about how remote control drones have been used in war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of us may even know that Barack Obama has doubled the number of drones attacks, resulting in between 1 492 and 2 378 deaths between 2004 and 2011. Obviously drones are incredibly efficient when it comes to automated warfare, but what if we used them for journalism? Good news! You can buy one for about 300 Euro. The AR-Drone is a quadricopter, a chopper with four engines, running on batteries 14.5 Watts per engine, good for a flight of about 10...

  • How to make your journalistic Twitter network rock: A case study

    Twitter is as essential a tool for journalism these days as a pen and notepad once were. One tweet can be can be as valuable as afternoon spent buying drinks for a source. It’s also a great way of spreading your own content and building your name as a journalist. The same rules that apply to big brands when it comes to Twitter, apply to you as a journalist. It’s not just about using Twitter, it’s about how you use it and how you measure up to your competitors. There are a number of tools that let you do...

  • Why the new iPad might not be the tablet that saves journalism

    “Sorry, it is not available,” the shop assistant told me. Ordering online wasn’t a possibility either; the ASUS Transformer was nowhere to be found. My rooted, white Pandigital tablet was too clumsy and slow for the job of mobile reporting and reading. I needed a real, powerful tablet. After quite some time, I decided to change my church — if there was no open source Android tablet, then I would take the new iPad. I had almost bought one, when a shop assistant mentioned he had two of the ASUS Transformers in stock. Here’s why I went for the latter....