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Online journalism

  • Twitter bot corrects users referring to Caitlyn Jenner as ‘He’

    It's been a little over a week since Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, introduced herself to the world, but people don't seem to be able to get to grips with using the correct pronoun. An automated Twitter feed stared correcting users who mis-identified Caitlyn Jenner as 'he'. So when a twitter user refers to Jenner using the wrong pronoun, the bot automatically corrects the tweet with the reminder of using Jenner's preferred female pronoun. The account was dubbed @she_not_he. The athlete and TV star 'Bruce Jenner' began transitioning to Caitlyn earlier in the year. She's went through breast augmentation...

  • 24.com folds regional English, Afrikaans papers into News 24 and Netwerk 24

    This is big. News24 and Netwerk24 have announced that the online platforms of 11 English and 14 Afrikaans newspaper titles have now moved into the 24.com network. These include local, regional and national newspapers. The papers now under the News24 banner include national title City Press, regional daily The Witness, and community titles such as Amanzimtoti Fever, Stanger Weekly, Greytown Gazette, Hillcrest Fever, Maritzburg Fever, Coastal Weekly, South Coast Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Edendale and Maritzburg Echo. At face value that seems like bad news for the community titles in particular. News24 says however that readers can also customise...

  • Sapa backs off on content deletion demand

    Last week Memeburn broke news that The South African Press Association (Sapa) would be requiring any news sites that subscribe to its wire service to delete all their archived Sapa content. The organisation today clarified its position, saying that the requirement would only affect those sites who carrying a database of Sapa stories. As reported by the Mail & Guardian, those news sites which only have single Sapa stories as part of their archives will not have to delete those stories. “At its recent meeting, the Sapa board became aware of a letter that has been sent...

  • New Sapa twist: news sites to haemorrhage content, lose readers?

    When the South African Press Agency (Sapa) closes its doors on 31 March, news sites across the country could face a massive content crisis. The news wire service has sent out a letter to its subscribers requesting that news sites across the country delete Sapa content from their archives. This could mean sites across the country would face traffic drops and advertising revenue declines. News sites rely on their digital archives to generate traffic and advertising, usually via network advertising services such as Google Adsense. The 77-year-old service announced that it would be shutting down in early February, although the decision...

  • 24.com steps into the SAPA void, launches news agency

    24.com, the digital arm of Media 24, has announced the launch of its own news agency. The new service, which is set to launch in April, will be called News24Wire. And if the press release marking the announcement is to be believed, its aim is to fill the void left by the South African Press Agency (SAPA), which closed down in early February. The agency will comprise a 16-strong, national reporting team being built by veteran editor and News24 editor-in-chief Andrew Trench. Leading the team however will be Sapa’s news editor Fienie Grobler. While News24Wire's goals are certainly lofty,...

  • Drones, maps and social networks: how SA’s media has used tech to report on the #CapeFire

    The fire sweeping across Cape Town's Southern peninsula has dominated South African headlines for three days now. A number of factors, including the scale of the blaze and limited access to the areas affected by it, have seen the country's media houses bring together a number of technologies and tools in their reporting efforts. While none of the technologies used are alien to South African media, the way they're being used suggests that newsrooms are reaching a turning point. Whereas before these tools might have been viewed as novelties to be used just for the sake of it, in...

  • How EWN used data journalism to give context to Soweto attacks

    Xenophobic attacks broke out in Soweto last week spreading to other areas around Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. News organisations were quick to report on the killings as tension was still brewing between local and foreign business owners. But beyond the headlines and live crossings, it was easy to think the violence was isolated to a few hot spots. Context and the sheer geography of the attacks were hard to grasp, even if you read all you could find about the violence. A small in-house team at Primedia’s EWN saw the opportunity to explain what was unfolding across South Africa...

  • WikiLeaks reveals Nigeria and SA’s huge spend on ‘weaponised surveillance malware’

    WikiLeaks is at it again. This time round, the controversial non-profit went on record saying that German surveillance company, FinFisher, is responsible for selling "weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world," including the South Africa. According to WikiLeaks, some of FinFisher's clients include Pakistan, Qatar, Vietnam, Italy, Singapore, South Africa, Nigeria and many other. WikiLeaks describes the German surveillance company as follows: FinFisher (formerly part of the UK based Gamma Group International until late 2013) is a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are...

  • Vice Media lands $500-million in investments: what’s it doing right?

    Vice, the once free indie punk mag from Montreal, Canada is today valued at more than US$2.5-billion. While everyone's looking at what the young tech company BuzzFeed is doing right with its massive 40-million monthly users and US$50-million investment, Vice Media is cropping up over 150-million users and just got a fresh injection of US$500-million. Silicon Valley based Technology Crossover Ventures recently pumped in US$250-million (and is also a big backer of Netflix and Facebook) while the other half of the Vice's new investment pie comes from the massive US television group A&E Networks. According to The New York Times, Vice...

  • 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...

  • Untangling the future of PR: Q&A with Press Friendly founder Joel Andren

    Press Friendly is the startup du jour that is being heralded by both PR Flacks and Journos as the future of PR. Dodging the "does PR have a future/what is the future of PR" debate for a second, this back to basics approach of "who, what, when, where and why" approach might just do more than ruffle a few feathers. It might just find and launch the next big thing. I sat down with Co-Founder and CEO, Joel Andren, and grilled him for a bit about the service that aims to "...empower entrepreneurs to build and manage their...

  • Online news outlets, the Twitter mob and Justine Sacco: who’s the real villain?

    When Justine Sacco boarded an international flight in Heathrow this past weekend, she was a relative nobody. By the time she landed in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 hours later she was the internet's number one villain. By now, you most likely know what happened. Just prior to boarding her flight, Sacco sent out a tweet saying: "Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” It was obviously ill-advised and the uproar it caused ended up costing Sacco, a PR executive at US-based media giant IAC, her job. But is she really the villain here? After...

  • 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...