Archive for April, 2010
495: national news articles that talked about a ‘hung parliament’ last week
62: percent rise in articles referring to Nick Clegg last week vs the previous 7 days (and 171% higher than the week before that)
These are all numbers taken from journalisted weekly – a statistical analysis of each week’s national print journalism we started a few weeks back (now published every Tuesday).
Partly out of frustration. Everyone talks about ‘what’s in the news’ but this normally equates to ‘what I read a lot about’ or ‘what caught my eye’. Very rarely do you see a factual breakdown of what was actually reported, and what wasn’t.
Partly for the record. It’s important to be able to look back over certain events and see what role journalism played. How well did the papers cover the 2010 election? Who predicted either the importance of the TV debates or the rise of the Lib Dems? (As it happens, Andrew Porter wrote – last December – that they were ‘a gamble’ for Brown and Cameron).
So what does it include?
Well, it’s only natural to start with what’s been covered lots in the press. For this we look at the top 100 subjects written about during the week and cross reference the number of times someone or something has been mentioned with the number of articles in which it has been mentioned. From this we can get a pretty good idea what’s been written about most.
We then look at what hasn’t been covered much. This – as you can probably guess – is rather trickier. Lots and lots doesn’t get covered every week, mostly because it isn’t ‘news’ (or what we understand as news). So we look for discrepancies – like the fact that Alex Salmond of the SNP was written about in 89 articles and Ieuan Wyn Jones of Plaid Cymru in only 4 – and for gaps in public interest reporting (like seeing if there hasn’t been anything on prisons, or social care, or knife crime, for example).
Political ups and downs counts the coverage of party leaders, parties and political policies.
X vs Y offsets coverage of different subjects in order to highlight some of the oddities, contradictions and obsessions of our national press. Such as the 307 articles talking about Wayne Rooney in Easter week, compared to 164 that mentioned Jesus.
Long form journalism started out as an experiment but is proving surprisingly illuminating. We wondered if, based on length of article alone, one could dig out in-depth original journalism. Turns out you can, sort of (provided you filter out the minute-by-minute live coverage of sporting events).
Finally, we pick out one of the week’s most newsworthy topics and point people to journalists – across the national press – that have been covering it extensively.
This was never intended only to be a spectator sport. We hope to kick start more analysis of UK journalism – either through journalisted.com or elsewhere. Journalisted has an API and a full text search, so anyone can do analysis of the press coverage if they want to.
Equally, if you have any suggestions as to how we could improve journalisted weekly, or what other analyses we should add – please do get in touch and let me know. Oh, and you can subscribe to journalisted weekly here.
My week has been dominated by clouds, physical and metaphorical.
I spent much of the first half of the week talking about internet clouds and other online weather similes. I then spent much of the second of the week navigating my way back home through a cloud of volcanic ash.
First the metaphorical clouds:
I was on a news innovation panel at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in Washington DC, along with Eric Umansky and Amanda Hickman from DocumentCloud, Jeff Reifman from NewsCloud, Bill Allison from the Sunlight Foundation, Rick Allen from SnagFilms, and Dan Pacheco from Printcasting.
Each of us had received a Knight News Award, and Knight had invited us to tell US newspaper editors about our work, and how they could use what we’d done in their newsroom.
Given how little I knew about some of the other innovations it was an education for me too, and I was impressed. So much so I figured I should do my best to describe the other innovations in case you wanted to try them:
Document Cloud: Eric Umansky, editor at ProPublica, was frustrated. He couldn’t find anywhere where he could upload a document – a confirmation hearing transcript say – such that he could then do a whole bunch of textual analysis on it, and then share that analysis with other journalists. So he, working with Amanda Hickman and others, built a site that does just that: http://documentcloud.org
NewsCloud: have developed an open source Facebook application that allows news organizations to create a Facebook page for their site that more closely mirrors their own site, but also benefits from the community feel of Facebook, and that has the added benefit of enabling the news organization to host their own ads on it
[Neither of these clouds should not be confused with MediaCloud – another very cool, foundation funded innovation that enables news media analysis – developed by Ethan Zuckerman and others at Harvard’s Berkman Center. I went to Berkman to talk about that on Wednesday. But that’s for another blog]
The Sunlight Foundation (yes, more weather): are developing a range of ‘politiwidgets’ – software tools to ‘provide journalists and citizens “integrated information” on Congress’. The one that Bill Allison – editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, demonstrated was a little widget that any news site could integrate with basic information about a member of Congress (sort of like an integrate-able version of www.theyworkforyou.com).
Snagfilms: Rick Allen has built up a collection of 1,150 non-fiction films – from organizations like National Geographic, PBS and the Sundance Channel that Snagfilms is enabling news sites to embed to relevant stories for free (i.e. they’ve cleared the rights etc.), like this one on Afghanistan
Printcasting: Dan Pacheco has developed wonderfully future-retro software that lets you create print documents very easily from online content, and combine it with higher value print advertising
And I explained what hNews was, why it was important, and why more than 250 US news sites have now integrated it to their articles.
The physical clouds came on the way back. Like many thousands of others I was knocked off course by a cloud of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland. Our overnight flight from Washington to London touching down in Paris lunchtime Thursday.
My favourite part of the lengthy overland journey back was the approach of the United airlines staff at Charles de Gaulle airport. When asked what United recommended its stranded passengers do to find their way home their response was along the lines of, ‘That’s up to you, from here you’re on your own’. Somehow I can’t imagine the American staff at United being so disarmingly phlegmatic.
Though our budget for telling people about the new journalisted.com is close to non-existent, we have managed to squeeze enough out to become the proud patron of Tobias Grubbe, an 18th century jobbing journalist, the creation of the uber-talented illustrator Matt Buck and writer Michael Cross.
Grubbe will be expressing his opinions about the election on The Guardian website from Monday 12th to the election (and a bit after). He has also become an honorary member of journalisted.com, joining over 18,000 of his colleagues.
You might notice that Tobias’s 18th century London bears striking parallels with the capital today, particularly in terms of the venality of its politics and the cut throat coffee house culture of its writers.
Any resemblance between the murky, mired media world of Tobias Grubbe and our contemporary situation is entirely deliberate.
We are honour’d to be supporting him and wish him well.
You can follow Tobias Grubbe’s progress on his journalisted profile.
A few days ago we released a new version of journalisted.com.
We discovered that, for a lot of journalists, their journalisted profile is becoming a bit like an online CV, so we wanted to give each journalist an opportunity to add stuff to his/her own page. Stuff like:
Articles from publications we don’t cover
Journalisted automatically adds all articles published in the national press or on the BBC to a journalist’s profile. But many journalists have written articles for other publications. We can’t find everything a journalist has written, so we figured it was much better to let people put up articles themselves
If you’re on journalisted you can now also indicate where you’ve worked, what qualifications you have, what books you’ve written, and what awards you’ve won (e.g. see Graham Norwood’s profile)
… and links to your blog, your website, your Wikipedia page, etc.…
You can also put up your email address, your twitter name, your phone number, and – if you want – your correspondence address (and edit them if they change)
Journalists you admire
You can even link to other journalists you admire… because recommendations make the web go round and give everyone something to talk about
More information gives the rest of us more to go on
Of course, giving journalists the opportunity to add information has significant benefit for the rest of us too. It gives us more context, more background, and a better indication of where the journalist is coming from. It should take us closer to our aim, to help people answer the question; ‘how do I know this journalist knows what they’re talking about?’.
If a journalist is commenting on global warming it can be helpful, for example, to know if they have a background in science, if they’ve won any awards in science journalism, and if they’ve written any books about global warming.
It also means if you want to contact a journalist – to follow up on a story or offer them employment – say – then you’ve got all their details.
Even though we’re yet to do any marketing of the new site, over 75 journalists have already claimed their profile, and the number is growing every day (for example, see Michael Hewitt’s profile, or Lisa Kjellson, or Bertan Budak or Michel Rose).
If you are featured on journalisted.com and would like to claim your profile, you can find your page by searching here. If you’re a journalist but not yet featured on journalisted, fear not – within the next few weeks we’ll be enabling any journalist to create their own profile, and add links to their work.
If you like journalisted and want to express your appreciation by making a donation to its upkeep (journalisted.com is free and funded by donations and foundations to the Media Standards Trust) we’d be most grateful.