Photo Credit: scriptingnews via Compfight cc Last week I was lucky enough to meet with three folks who work in the newsroom of a daily newspaper.  That’s a big deal to me, because if my work isn’t useful to people who work in a newsroom, a mission-driven nonprofit, or doesn’t work for folks who want to change the world (or even just their little piece of it), I’m wasting my time. I asked them: “What should my next step-by-step tutorial be?  What would be really useful for a beat reporter who doesn’t think of themselves as a techie to pick up?”  Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that shooting video was considered a specialty task that print reporters[…]

Recently I searched for the name of my current project, “Data for Radicals,” and through that magic we know as Serendipity on the Internet, up popped: Ten Rules for Radicals by none other than Carl Malamud.  To be honest, before I read “Ten Rules for Radicals,” all I knew about Carl was that my friends who were investigative journalists — particularly those who did the deep data and document dives through FOIA and other means — talked about him in hushed tones of awe. Reading the title, I could not help but think that the essay, originally an address to the WWW2010 conference, represented one of those strange messages that happen between people of ideas, even if those people are[…]

Visual approaches to data are great — they can allow us to grasp complex issues at a glance, just the way this map from Clear Health Costs shows us the dramatic differences between what different hospitals charge for the same procedure. But sometimes a simple, sortable and searchable table of data is all that’s really needed.  Using  code written by Chris L. Keller, I was able to create this sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, along with the populations they serve, and how many full-time officers per capita there are. As always, click on any image in this blog to see it full size.  I leave helpful annotations in the illustrations to these tutorials —[…]

  Sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies, Middlesex County, MA Tabletop.js is a Javascript library that lets you use Google spreadsheets as the data source for web apps.  It’s pretty neat — especially since we know there are so many simple but useful web and mobile apps we can create where setting up a full-on database is overkill.  What if you want to make a sortable, searchable list of craft breweries?  Or a schedule for a music festival?  Do you really have to bust out MySQL for that? Well, with Tabletop.js, you don’t.  The other great thing about using Tabletop.js is that a lot more people know how to use a Google spreadsheet than know how to enter records[…]

  [9/15/14: REPAIRED!  This tutorial was broken because a file used (tabletop.js) needed to be updated to the newest version.  It works now.  Enjoy! — LW] Gay marriage became legal today in Rhode Island, making marriage equality the law of the land in all of New England. The Providence Journal published a detailed timeline of GLBT history in the state — but it’s text-only.  On this happy day, what could we do to spiff things up a little?  I decided to give the Projo’s timeline a little celebratory finery by creating a vertical, interactive timeline using Timeline.js.  Check it out. Now I will show you how to do it!

I first heard the word “Pressthink” from NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, who began a blog of the same name. I’m not sure I ever heard Jay define the term “pressthink,” but I’ll try: Pressthink:  A set of shared, embedded and often unspoken notions that guide the actions of a group of people creating news media for public consumption. In otherwords, the “pressthink” of a publication and the people who work at it help those people decide what is good work, or bad work; what’s worth doing and not doing, whether coverage is fair or not.  (Writing that makes me think that pressthink is inherently moral; perhaps it is the moral philosophy of a news organization). When I saw FvckTheMedia,[…]