Tag Archives: paul bradshaw

Breadth Portfolio: Part 1 – Maps and Forms

In this series of posts I’ll share part of the report I wrote for the MA Online Journalism’s Multimedia Journalism module, in which I describe some experiments I developed in the last months. I’d appreciate some feedback and ideas on this.

Maps and Forms

One of the most interesting phenomena in online journalism is how media can easily be left out of the process of delivering the news: they are no longer the source of information to a wider audience, but most times sit on the sidelines trying to grasp what is going on before their eyes. As we have learned with breaking news stories, it has been the crowd, the common users, that have revealed events to the world faster, more accurately and in a more diverse fashion than “regular” media is able to.  We saw that happen with the Hudson River airplane near-crash, lots of earthquakes from China to Haiti, with the demonstrations in Iran. All were relevant for different reasons, but their dissemination to a wider audience has a few points in common: social networks, and the absence of media, at least in the very first instants.

I’ve been defending for a while that journalists are no longer mediators between fact and public, but news DJs that remix the information available, building on preexistent content, generated by users, authorities, and other media.  Yet, media seem to fail to gather and organize this torrent of information.

When on the 20th of February a storm hit Madeira Island, causing mudslides and floods, the silence on most news websites, radios and TV stations was deafening. But on Twitter there were accounts from local people about what was going on, and, above all, they had videos. The event was being tagged as #tempmad, so it was easy to follow all the developments, but the information seemed to be too scattered to get a real picture of what was going on in the island, and since there was no one organizing the information available, I decided to create a map on Google[ii], to place videos, pictures and other relevant information.

Starting off with links to YouTube videos published by witnesses on location, and asking for more content, I quickly put the map together and made it available to everyone and although it hadn’t many items, it started to get hits at an impressive rate. Since it was Saturday, and most newsrooms were empty, it was the only visual representation online of the events in the first hours, and it was used by some Portuguese media[iii] in their coverage of the event (more specifically, two national newspapers and public television). It got 10.000 views in the first hours and reached 30.000 in just two days. One month later, it has the impressive number of 77 thousand visits.

Madeira Map

But that was relatively easy, since all I had to do was to place and embed the video and photographic content available into the map. When I started collaborating on the second day with an impromptu team that was aggregating data about the floods in a Netvibes website[iv] created by IT student, I started thinking about how to create ways to make information available in real time, or with the direct participation of the community. We were already trying to create lists of missing people, when doubts started about the number of dead. So we asked people to share the information they had, and since we couldn’t be waiting for that information to show up on the timeline, I created a form[v] where people could – with some detail – give out the names, residence and origin of the victims, and where they were found. Rumors placed the number of dead around the hundred, but final count marks 43, and that form was useful to have some grasp on reality. The form would then feed a spreadsheet automatically, placed on the website.

I also installed two maps, one giving the number of dead by district[vii], fed through a spreadsheet that automatically placed the marks in the right geolocation; the other was a recent Umapper development, showing geolocated tweets[ix] using the referred #tempad tag. These were easy to set and place and I think they did their job quite well.

It is hard to present a structured research for this assignment about this situation. The technical skills required are not that demanding, and the most rewarding and interesting tools for live mapping did not apply or were too complicated to put into use in a breaking news operation. But as geolocation gains more and more relevance in the production and sharing of content, the standards for online news coverage start to revolve around the concept.

One of the things that struck me is that despite these are tools available for free and easy to use, media don’t take advantage of them. It was really fast to deploy these features on the website, and there wasn’t much science involved, all that is required to respond in a breaking news situation. GoogleDocs are simple to use, and the latest developments allowed them to become almost “just-add-water” apps. What is the real challenge is to choose the right way to present information. It’s the journalist’s discerning view that will make the difference between good and bad web-based newsgathering.


Links and references

[ii]Google Map

[iii] Post with media references http://tinyurl.com/y9wdu3t

[iv] Netvibes website http://tinyurl.com/yhb8zux

[v] Form on page http://tinyurl.com/yhb8zux

[vii] Death Map (on top) http://tinyurl.com/yhb8zux

[ix] Ummaper tweet map at the end of the post  http://tinyurl.com/yapktkz

MA Online Journalism: the videos | os videos

Just one year ago there was this huge debate over a student that was banned from blogging his classes at New York University. Here at the MA Online Journalism Paul Bradshaw is such a forward thinker we are recording the lectures on video. And this is not a regular classroom, it is a cafe Birmingham’s city centre. Pretty cool huh?

In this video the class was invited to share work experiences, and around 3’40” i get to say some rubbish. Two things: it’s a diverse bunch indeed, and i have to do something about my haircut and/or beard.

In order of appearance: Dan Davies, Caroline Beavon, me, Ioana Epure, Andrew Brightwell.

Watch the related videos for more bits of our first lecture.

Há apenas um ano atrás houve uma discussão enorme por causa de uma estudante da New York University que foi proibida de blogar as aulas. Aqui no Mestrado, o Paul Bradshaw é tão à frente que estamos a gravar as aulas em video. E não numa sala de aula qualquer, mas num café no centro de Birmingham. Porreiro, não?

Neste video a turma partilhou algumas experiências de trabalho, e por volta dos 3’40” tenho espaço para dizer algumas asneiras. Duas coisas: é realmente um grupo heterogéneo, e tenho que fazer alguma coisa ao meu cabelo e/ou barba.

Por ordem de entrada: Dan Davies, Caroline Beavon, eu, Ioana Epure, Andrew Brightwell.

Vejam nos videos relacionados outras partes da nossa primeira aula.

Back online, from Birmingham | De volta, online, e a partir de Birmingham

The gate to a new life | A porta para uma nova vida
The gate to a new life | A porta para uma nova vida

First of all, i’d like to apologize for my silence in these last two weeks, but i recently moved to Birmingham and suffered internet  deprivation until last Friday. After clearing almost 2000 Google Reader items and a couple  hundreds emails, finally i got the time to update you all about what is going on with me.

As most of you should know, i’m here to do the MA Online Journalism, directed by Paul Bradshaw. There is an interesting bunch doing this course, with different experiences and perspectives and a genuine interest about the future of Journalism. After a rather uneventful week, where i was just trying to get accostumed to the city and settling in, we went last Friday morning to an informal meeting called Social Media Cafe, where the social media experts from Birmingham get together for some coffee and networking. I met some interesting people, and i’m going back next time to do a bit of networking myself, and try to find some work, who knows.

Afterwards, we went to participate in another interesting event, a community effort to re-create a better website for the Birmingham City Council, since the official one was unbelievebly expensive and it’s not that good. I’ll talk more about this soon, but i have to say i was amazed to see how people were available to share their knowledge  to build something meant to get right where the public institutions have failed.

This week i’ll be starting the MA. I still don’t believe i’m here, and meeting Paul Bradshaw was great. The man is brilliant and there is a lot to learn from this experience he has managed to provide for all of us at the course. I’ll just have to do my best, and correspond to the expectations. Right now, i have some reading to do, lots of it. Wish me luck.

Antes de mais, quero pedir desculpa pelo meu silêncio nas últimas duas semanas, mas mudei-me recentemente para Birmingham e estive sem internet até Sexta. Depois de ter limpo cerca de 2000 itens do meu Google Reader e algumas centenas de emails, finalmente tenho tempo de vos pôr a par do que se passa comigo.

Como a maioria deve saber, estou aqui para fazer o Mestrado em Jornalismo Online, dirigido pelo Paul Bradshaw. Somos um grupo interessante neste curso, com experiências e perspectivas diferentes, e um genuíno interesse no futuro do Jornalismo. Depois de uma semana sem grande história, onde estive só a ver se me instalava e me habituava à cidade, fomos Sexta de manhã a um encontro informal chamado Social Media Cafe, onde os especialistas é media sociais  de Birmingham se juntam para café e  alguma conversa. Conheci pessoas muito interessantes, e vou voltar para a próxima para fazer mais conhecimentos, e tentar arranjar trabalho, quem sabe.

Depois, fomos a outro evento interessante, um esforço comunitário para recriar um website melhor para o Birmingham City Council, já que o oficial foi incrivelmente caro, e não é grande coisa. Eu irei falar disto em breve, mas tenho que dizer que fiquei impressionado ao ver como as pessoas estavam dispostas em partilhar os seus conhecimentos e construir algo que emendasse o que as instituições públicas não conseguiram fazer certo.

Esta semana começo as aulas. Ainda não acredito que estou aqui, e conhecer o Paul Bradshaw foi impecável. O homem é brilhante e temos muito a retirar desta experiêmcia que ele nos proporcionou com este curso. Vou ter apenas que dar o meu melhor e tentar corresponder às expectativas. Para já, tenho alguns livros para ler, muitos mesmo. Desejem-me sorte.

Changes part 1 | Mudanças parte 1

Some of you already knew about this, but i applied to the MA Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, a course created and headed by Paul Bradshaw.

I got a place there a few weeks ago, but i was depending on a bank loan that kept me from making any “official” statement about this sooner. It came through today, though there’s still some bureaucracy involved.

I asked for your support and you have been great joining the cause. Without you everything would be harder. So, thank you.

Anyway, i’m going. It’s going to be a huge change in my life and hopefully a stepping stone for my career. It’s going to be hard for different reasons, but it can’t be harder than what i’ve gone through in the last few years. And i expect it to be more fun.

But this is just part of it. There are more changes on the way. I’ll let you know soon.

Alguns de vocês já sabiam disto, mas candidatei-me ao Mestrado em Jornalismo Online da Birmingham City University,um curso criado e dirigido pelo Paul Bradshaw.

Consegui um lugar lá há já umas semanas, mas estava dependente de um empréstimo bancário que me impediu de fazer alguma declaração “oficial” mais cedo. Mas consegui-o hoje, apesar de haver ainda alguma papelada a tratar.

Eu pedi o vosso apoio e vocês foram impecáveis ao aderir à causa. Sem vocês seria tudo mais difícil, por isso, obrigado.

De qualquer forma, eu vou. Vai ser uma mudança enorme na minha vida e espero que seja um passo em frente na minha carreira. Vai ser difícil por várias razões, mas não será mais do que vivi nos últimos anos. E acredito que será mais divertido.

Mas isto é apenas parte, há mais mudanças a caminho. Em breve eu ponho-vos a par.