Better Journalism With Data Visualization

 

original
source: gizmodo.com

 

I love reading news online, especially since I don’t subscribe to any newspapers anymore. And over the years, online news have gotten to a level where they create much better narratives than newspaper’s journalism, especially narratives full chock of data based story.

Online journalists nowadays use infographics to help them create better narratives especially ones full of data. Infographic is, by the definition of the internet (and by internet, I mean Wikipedia), is the visual representation of information and data to present information clearly.

A particular reason why I love infographics in any online news story can probably be explained by Segel and Heers’ article. In their article, they mention how visual media can engender a narrative experience to direct our attention to the whole news story.

This is particularly true for me who often gets distracted while reading a news online (which, I assume, happens to everyone as well). Infographics really help me to stick through the whole article, even the long ones. And infographics also help a lot in terms of delivering the story by condensing them into images.

So, whether it’s a story about Elon Musk’s many failures or a brief story about the users and usage of Spotify, infographics have really helped in delivering succinct information to be consumed by our rapidly decreasing attention span.

 

 

 

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Is Data Journalism Supposed to Be Accurate?

Data journalism is a relatively new subject in the world of journalism. According to Appelgren and Nygren, data journalism is about stories that “are usually based on large data sets that often consist of public data or data collected with the aid of the general public.”

However, I often question whether data journalism can actually represent the actual situation that we have in real life?

Compared to traditional journalism, data journalism has certainly provided an alternative narration for news such as election news. In an article by Solop and Wonders , they examine how both modes of journalism present each of their own narratives in the case of 2012’s Presidential Election in the USA. They found that traditional journalists had inconsistent data where Obama’s lead over Romney was very slim and some media even reported that Romney would win, and it was the result of different ideologies and perspectives driven by pundits. On the other hand, data journalists constructed a narrative that Obama was consistently leading and it came to no surprise that he eventually did win.

However, in another case, data journalism might not be as accurate as it might seem. A good example is the recent gubernatorial election in Jakarta, Indonesia. In this article, it is discussed that the then incumbent governor would probably lose in the first round of the election.

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source: http://www.eurasiareview.com

However, the result turned out that Ahok, as the incumbent governor, won the first round of the election as specified in this article.

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Jakarta election’s first round result. Source: tirto.id

 

The different outcome could be a result of various factors, including the change of voters’ decision in the last minute. However, with two different results in two different countries, I can safely argue that we should not always take data journalism at face value. With that being said, I can also vouch for data journalism as a source of legitimate news because it presents more integrity than the politically driven traditional journalism. However

With that being said, I can also vouch for data journalism as a source of legitimate news because it presents more integrity than the politically driven traditional journalism. However, data journalists should also fully disclose their source of data in order to be trusted by the audiences.

 

Better Innovation From Networks

When you work as a white-collar  worker, you will often hear people giving you advice to “go out and start networking.” It sounds cliche, but if the ones who said it are your superiors with incomes ten times bigger than yours, then it is an advice that you should try to abide.

However, this advice works not just when you’re a white-collar worker. It is also applicable in the technology or startup industry when developing new technologies in order to innovate effectively. This approach is referred as ‘Open Innovation.’

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source: bock-pm.com/service/open-innovation

Henry Chesbrough who coined the term ‘Open Innovation’ describes it as a …more distributed, more participatory, more decentralized approach to innovation that will eventually help to create better innovations. In another article, Chesbrough mentions that the research & development team of a company should utilise external networks to complement their work, which eventually will create better innovations.

While I’ve never worked in a tech or startup company before, I must agree to this idea by Chesbrough. Having external networks will help create better innovations because the companies will gain better insights on what it’s like to be a user. Let’s say you want to develop an app for food delivery. You ought to have external networks to know what else your targeted audiences need, what do they think is lacking from other services, how they would they like to have their food delivered, etc.

It’s just a thought. But if you want to make a better world, for both you and your consumer, then start networking.

We’re All Content Creators Now!

Are you on social media? If you are, even if it’s only Facebook or Instagram, then congratulations, you are among the millions of content creators on the internet!

Content creators on the internet commonly create user-generated content, which according to this article, can be defined as content generated by users that has the potential to create engagement.

If we are going with this definition, then the content can range differently according to the social media that the users use. It can be a status on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, a photo posted on Instagram, a video on YouTube, etc.

Since I’m mostly active on Twitter, I find that Twitter has the potential to be the best social networking sites for user-generated content. Not only that it’s real time (for spreading the news) and its content is easy to find (with hashtags and keywords), the meme and the humour on Twitter are the best (because 4chan is reserved for twisted minded people)

Take this recent twitter thread that can be considered as one of the culturally relevant, bridging two different cultures in one thread, and entertaining as well.

In short, we are all now content creators on the internet, but if you want to have more fun with other content creators, you should visit Twitter soon (I swear I’m not getting paid for this)

Twitter Is My Source of News

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Nowadays it’s getting even more difficult to watch the news on television or read newspapers. Mostly because I don’t watch too much TV anymore and I perceive newspapers as not environmentally friendly. But at the same time, as a part of the millennial generation who often fears of missing out on the latest updates, I still need to read the news to know what is going on with the world around me. That is where social media comes in handy.

On social media, I am mostly active on Twitter and Reddit. Hence, I follow the necessary outlets as pictured above (please disregard the Nihilist Arby’s and The Onion for I have a dark sense of humour sometimes) on my Twitter account.

Twitter for me has come very handily in following news updates, especially if you follow the right media outlet, people with influence, or when some hashtags appear on the trending topic list. My behaviour, as explained by Weeks and Holbert, is among the advantages brought upon by social media in relaying the news. By using social media to consume the news, the users maintain much control of the information environment. Additionally, users can also participate by selecting which content to consume and sharing it with others.

This has also led to the rise of what is commonly known as ‘citizen journalism.’ Propelled by the rise of smartphones and tablets, citizen journalism can be described as news reporting by locals who happen to be on the scene of events. Some have taken citizen journalism as helping news outlets to create news stories, while others criticise citizen journalism because it is not a real journalism and may spread fake news/hoax. Twitter is especially useful for citizen journalism because a tweet can often spread fast and gain wide attention within hours. For more details about citizen journalism, you can read this article by Mashable.

TL;DR Thank you, Twitter for providing me news updates every day!

The Dark Side of the Internet a.k.a The Deep Web

 

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source: politicsbulletin.wordpress.com

 

For the past decade, the internet has become the champion of communication freedom. From news, technology, gaming, to social media, everything is now built with internet connectivity in mind so we can be continuously connected with each other. But, with all good things that come from the advancement of internet, comes the bad ones along as well. Most people may not care much about it since all they are looking for is already up there on the ‘surface’ of the internet. But, if you really want to know better about the history of the internet, you should learn about its dark side too, even if it’s only a little.

According to Nick Douglas, the dark side of the internet, also known as ‘Internet Ugly’, is an aesthetic produced by internet’s advantages namely speed and lack of gatekeepers. One of the prime examples of ‘Internet Ugly’ is 4chan, notoriously known as the birthplace of memes and rage comics, which made their way into mainstream internet not long after that.

 

4chan-logo
source: themarysue.com

 

I personally see 4chan as the gateway to the deep web. Its environments can be toxic to some, especially because the community is so tight regarding their anonymity and it has no strict guidelines. Even Reddit, which you can refer to as the organised version of 4chan, has its dark sides too. You will never know until you eventually stumbled upon a subreddit (i.e. specific topics on the website) that makes you immediately close your tab.

And also, one cannot talk about the deep web without a slight mention of TOR browser. I won’t go further in it, but you can read this article from Sydney Morning Herald that basically sums up everything that I know about the deep web. And if you ever decide to go further into the deep web, a word of warning: Proceed With Caution.

 

The Future of Media Funding Lies Within Sponsored Content (Or Is It?)

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source: mindgruve.com

Last week, I’ve mentioned a little bit about BuzzFeed Envy and how it generates revenues and sponsored contents. Of course, I did mention how BuzzFeed produce articles with little content and clickbait titles. While that is indeed true, you have to admit the one thing that BuzzFeed is doing right: Sponsored Content.

As we all know, online media nowadays have been struggling in trying to find their source of funding. In a paper by Krumsvik , she highlights that internet advertising has not fully taken over the market from traditional media’s advertising channels. Sure, internet advertising has surpassed newspaper’s advertising, but overall internet advertising market is still far behind traditional advertising channel.

Thus, some media seek alternative methods to fund their business. Some of them use the subscription methods, while others simply urge the audience to donate to their cause.

BuzzFeed_Sponsored_Content_Sample
source: buzzfeed.com

And then there’s BuzzFeed. With its sponsored content business model, BuzzFeed seems to be doing great, much better than its contemporaries. They offer different varieties of advertisement and partnership that will surely attract brands to advertise with them.

So, why does this model work? In a feature article from nymag.com, the founder of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, has given us the secret to his website’s success. It involves more than just clickbait titles or the shareable contents, as it’s all about the algorithm, the data-driven apparatus that uncovers the secret that makes people click on a link.

One question looms: is this the best model as a source of funding for online media?

I personally believe that this model does not work for everyone. I mean, can you imagine a media like New York Times doing a sponsored content like BuzzFeed has done so far? In the end, it depends on what kind of online media it aims to be. Since its inception, BuzzFeed has decided to be a website full of shareable contents and eventually capitalise it. Online media with credentials meant to be as news media will not be able to replicate BuzzFeed’s model because of the said credentials.

It surely is not easy for online media to survive with the current business model, but if they can come up with a different model, maybe partnering with traditional news media like Krumsvik suggested, I think they can survive for more years to come.

 

 

Should Tech Website Stick Exclusively To Tech Journalism?

 

buzzfeed
source: http://www.buzzfeed.com

 

Yes, we’ve read about “BuzzFeed envy” that Matt Saccaro talked about in his article for Salon. BuzzFeed, as we all know, has been all over the internet for the past few years, dishing out a wide array of contents that (almost) always go viral.

Certainly, in the current online media landscape, where news websites are trying really hard to churn out as much content as possible, everyone is trying to be the next BuzzFeed. I mean, who doesn’t? With little content and clickbait titles (yes, I’m looking at 18 Cats Who Waited All Day For You To Get Home) they can generate thousands, even millions, of shares on Facebook and Twitter. And those shares eventually generate revenue in the form of advertisements and sponsored contents.

Now as we all know tech websites such as TechCrunch and Mashable have a very niche target audience. However, in the increasingly tough competitions where even Mashable had to layoffs some of their staffs, the change of content is surely needed.

 

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Yep, clickbaits

 

 

As you’ve seen above, Mashable has shifted their focus from a tech website, into a mesh of tech/pop culture/lifestyle/news website. Even The Verge has strayed from specifically talking about technology and gadgets and includes culture on their website.

I personally see that these changes are necessary. Of course, you don’t have to be like BuzzFeed, but to include other categories of news means that your website has a bigger chance of survival in the current online media landscape. When Nordfors (2004) mentioned ‘Innovation Journalism’ includes business news or even general daily news, then surely these other contents are equally important for the consumers as well.

Then, what are your thoughts on this? Should tech websites be exclusively dedicated to tech, or shouldn’t they?

 

News Video; The Most Effective Form of News in Social Media?

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source: http://www.ajplus.net

As we all know, the traditional news media in the form of newspapers and magazines have begun to decline. This decline is not only affected by the rise of the internet but especially the rise of social media. Nowadays, we are constantly wired to our social media via our gadgets, especially smartphones. In Australia alone, the number of smartphone users in 2017 is estimated to reach 16.6 million, while the worldwide number is estimated to exceed 2 billion users.

Surely, smartphones and social media have changed the way we produce and consume news. However, one form of news in social media has certainly picked up more pace compared to a news article: video.

In a study conducted by Steensen (2011), he found that there are three assets that have the greatest impact on online journalism, namely: hypertext, interactivity, and multimedia. But according to him, multimedia, including video, was “the least developed of the assets offered to journalism by internet technology”.

Now, that study was conducted six years ago. Fast forward to 2017, videos have become the king of online journalism, especially in social media.

News videos such as the ones from AJ+, an online news channel run by Al Jazeera Media Network, are amongst the most popular and the most shared and/or retweeted by social media users. This is a stark contrast to some news that are relatively heavy in text.

Example:

News on President Trump’s meeting with Chancellor Merkel, which generates thousands of reactions and shares

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compared to this report on Trump’s presidency, which only generates hundreds of reactions and shares

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It needs to be stated that these two posts from AJ+ were posted around the same time.

Is social media news video the future of journalism? Who knows, but it surely has changed the way we produce and consume news now.

Do you regularly consume news via social media video? If you do, then what are your thoughts?