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Online journalism

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Honey badgers, empty categories and Gareth Cliff’s tweets: Bookmarks 2013

    Digital matters. And even in a country like South Africa, where people in the advertising industries have been a bit slower to adopt to new trends, it's becoming increasingly difficult to imagine any campaign that doesn't have a digital component. It makes sense too. In a world where Google makes more money than all US magazines combined, failing to be on a digital platform means you're pretty much signing your own death warrant. In South Africa meanwhile, digital is drawing an increasingly large slice of the advertising pie, especially as newspaper and magazine circulations fall. One other thing that...

  • Paywalls, aggregation and the ‘third metric’: Memeburn interviews Arianna Huffington

    If you know anything about online publishing, chances are you know about The Huffington Post. The online news aggregator and blog, after all, overtook the New York Times in terms of unique visits in mid 2011 and in 2012 it became the first commercially run US digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize. Memeburn recently got the chance to sit down with the site's eponymous founder Arianna Huffington. The daughter of a Greek journalist and management consultant, Huffington has been in the public eye since the early 1990s when her then husband the Michael Huffington made an unsuccessful...

  • Giving it away for free: advertising, content and the paywall debate [T4A]

    Mail & Guardian editor-in-chief Chris Roper is standing in front of a graph predicting newspaper circulation figures -- and it’s not good. You may be used to the hockey-stick shaped growth curves of tech darlings like Pinterest and Instagram, but the chart forecasting the future of information provided in newsprint and ink is gradually headed towards zero. The editor of one of South Africa’s most prominent investigative titles glances at the graph behind him and summarises the prospects of newspapers bluntly: “Generally, you’re screwed.” With more and more readers ditching paper for pixels, how to make money from a medium...

  • 5 ways tech is changing the face of journalism (but not the internal organs)

    From tablets to Twitter and smartphones to social media, the way we produce and consume news will never be the same. As with almost part of our lives, technology has interrupted and disrupted the way we used to do things, and journalism is no exception. When the hairs on our head are a little greyer we will look back at this period and hold it alongside that of the time of the printing press, when a revolution took place. And even though the face of journalism is being radically altered, the internal organs, the principles that guide the production...

  • Jeff Bezos’ customer-focused vision won’t save journalism

    So much for that momentary spark of optimism that Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos would save journalism by relaunching his Washington Post newspaper, with a fabulous tech-led business model and leading the way for a resurgent newspaper industry. In his first TV interview since the Washington Post purchase, Bezos said that he bought the newspaper as a personal investment and to support an "important institution." Katherine Fung reported on Huffington Post: Speaking to CNN correspondent Dan Simon, said that that he was hopeful about the road ahead and his ability to contribute to the organisation… "I'm hopeful that I can help...

  • The future of journalism lies in data [Highway Africa]

    The way news is produced and consumed has changed and media houses need to be aware of it. According to Data Journalist Peter Verweij, the current turbulent landscape that journalism faces can be resolved with data journalism. Speaking at the 17th edition of the Highway Africa conference, Verweij points out that newspaper circulation has seen consistent decline in the last decade and online counterparts are gaining traction. He argues that journalists need to be analytical in their storytelling by mining the data already available to them. "Journalism is in crisis and in desperate need for reinvention and data journalism could...

  • At the crossroads: which path should AllThingsD head down?

    JP Mangalindan and Dan Primack at Fortune have produced an excellent article on tech gadget and news site AllThingsD and the discussions between owner Dow Jones and the founding team of Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Here are the main points: Dow Jones owns AllThingsD but the contract with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher will expire at the end of this year. The two co-executive editors are trying to gain ownership of the property. AllThingsD is working with investment bank Code Advisors to find outside investors at an enterprise value that could exceed the $25-million that AOL (AOL) reportedly paid in 2010...

  • 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)...

  • Citizen journalism, crowdsourcing are changing news but not how we thought

    “Will anyone with information please come forward”. It's a refrain we always hear police echo in crime-dramas. People are too afraid to come forward though for lack of trust in the official authorities or fear of gangs. That's especially in poverty-stricken, gang-ridden areas. You can easily imagine the classic scene: New York cops at a ghetto crime scene with apartment residents hiding behind their curtains. Then again, we are constantly documenting massive amounts of potential evidence each time we post a photo via Instagram, a video via Vine or even a report by sending out an ‘eyewitness tweet.’ How...