Online Journalism Blog

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Scraping ugly HTML using ‘regular expressions’
Paul Bradshaw Online Journalism Blog 2012/11/08

A lot of the magic that I work behind the scenes in this newsletter and the MOOCs we run is based on regular expressions. This is a two part post (part one, part two) providing an overview. Ignore the references to 'OutWit Hub' - regular expressions work everywhere, not just in the one system (well, ok, not everywhere, but anywhere you're working with sufficiently powerful programming langauges). Basically, regular expressions are pattern matchers - they are code used to define types of patterns that can be matched against strings, to extract from strings, or change strings. Why would this be useful? Well, suppose you have a huge pile of data, like, say, every blog post published today. Regular expressions can be used to zero on those posts that talk about a certain thing, or class of things. They're also really useful for categorization - instead of using tags, which are labour intensive, I simply define a topic 'tag' as a shorthand for a regular expression.

Today: Total:8 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The US election was a wake up call for data illiterate journalists
Paul Bradshaw Online Journalism Blog 2012/11/08

The difference between old education and new education is the same as this: "Journalists get access to privileged information from official sources, then evaluate, filter, and order it through the rather ineffable quality alternatively known as 'news judgment,' 'news sense,' or 'savvy' ... Silver’s process — his epistemology — is almost exactly the opposite of this: Where political journalists’ information is privileged, his is public, coming from poll results that all the rest of us see, too." Now I'm not saying new education boils down to numbers and data. What I'm saying is that while old education traded on privileged access to expert opinion, new education is based on media accessible to all. Of course, it's not like journalsts have learned any lessons.

Today: Total:10 [Comment] [Direct Link]
How To Get Started as a Multimedia Journalist
Paul Bradshaw Online Journalism Blog 2012/08/31

These are the sorts of roles that could be played not only in online journalism but also in an online course (especially a Course Of Unusual Size). Right now in my own work I play the role of editor, and leave things like data journalism, community management and multimedia journmalism to others. Also, the question-connections don't exist - maybe they should. In an online newspaper, of course, the roles are faily strictly defined, but I can imagine they would be looser in a larger and less structured entry like an online course. Anyhow, something to think about.

Today: Total:8 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Objectivity and impartiality: newsroom policy
Paul Bradshaw Online Journalism Blog 2012/01/17

There's a bit of a debate in the online news world that I think is long overdue: whether reporters should 'fact check' their sources. As the proposed wording states: "If someone misrepresents the facts, do not simply say someone else disagrees, make a statement along the lines of 'However, the actual wording of the report…' or 'The official statistics do not support her argument' or 'Research into X contradict this.' And of course, link to that evidence and keep a copy for yourself (which is where transparency comes in)." But of course this is controversial, with critics suggesting that this amounts to telling reporters to be "truth vigilantes." But as Matthew Ingram says, "media outlets that leave this kind of function to third parties risk losing the trust of their readers." Where do I stand on this? On the side of the truth. Where else? People in positions of trust - doctors, lawyers, journalists, teachers, scientists - have an obligation to correct errors of fact. Today: Total:6 [Comment] [Direct Link]

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