Online News: Geeky Guidance

Posted: July 28, 2011 in My Data Journey

I’m over the half-way through the Knight Mozilla Learning Lab with lofty goals of changing the way we experience news online. I came up with my idea after filming a rant by my friend and colleague. I threw down something very quickly on paper and have since made wire frame mock-ups using MockFlow (thanks Chris Keller for suggesting that software).

I have no experience in UX (user-experience) and no design skills to speak of. I’ve just started learning to programme but my objective was never to build sites or applications, but to get at data for story generation and knowledge in the newsroom.

The learning lab so far has included some really big hitters and even though I don’t write directly about their words of wisdom (my criteria for forming my software proposal has come from blogs and an article by Jeff Jarvis, who will be giving the last webinar), their advice manifests itself as the cogs in my idea-making machine. So I give you my idea so far, for which I will have to write a proposal. It’s a bit long and rambling but I don’t like to edit out the person so much. It is my ‘workings’ which will be refined and made succinct in the traditional media fashion.

Here is Phil Gyford’s blog post, Andy Rutledge’s blog post, Brad Colbow’s blog post, Anil Dash’s blog post and Jeff Jarvis’ article. Highly recommended reading. Also, here is the blog post about the calculated and strategic killing of future party leaders by someone who’s thinking was so frighteningly designed he could not be insane. Here also is a blog post about comments on the Norwegian massacre in Hebrew which sheds another horrific light on the anti-Muslim sentiment world wide. This is a particularly good example of how I need user-generated-content to access even parts of the web which would not otherwise be available to me.

This week, Shazna Nessa Director of Interactive at AP, spoke about making changes in the newsroom and working with staff that have a multitude of different skills. Now I work with geeks. They make my world a better place for me to live in. I’ve been introduced to MakerNight where I’m building a hamster feeder that looks for a twitter hashtag, and GeekUp where mostly we go to the pub! That being said, I presented “The Big Picture” at the last GeekUp in Liverpool to get some geeky guidance. Here’s the result, pardon the modulating audio, I didn’t have a mic:

I see ‘The Big Picture’ as a major collaborative effort between the public, the newsroom community managers, journalists (as they’ll know the topic and should be amongst the invited guests), and experts in the field who may even be the presenter. Now the minimum-viable-person for this project is Joe Blogs so the minimum technical skills are required. Just as a discussion show requires producers, journalists, researchers, directors and studio-hands, so everyone should be involved in providing the big picture.

  1. Hey Nicola – WOW. I really wish I would have talked to you more about what you were brewing up in the last couple of weeks because I think we would have had some great discussions that would have helped me (and maybe you too 😉 a lot. There are a lot of similarities between what we are doing, and the fact that you are a journalist has certainly led to thinking past what I, as a non journalist was considering.

    I see you have a dipity (?) timeline at the top, so additional content will be organized and accessed chronologically? Commenting with content is an absolutely excellent idea, but I’m wondering how labor intensive it will be to sort through the madness – ie spam.

    All in all I’m super impressed (and intimidated!). Well done, so awesome, huge kudos!

    • Nicola Hughes says:

      I have a journo background so rather than looking for the next Facebook I’m looking at it from the point of view of integrating traditional media ideas from other platforms i.e. broadcast (my background). I’m lucky in having access to geeks (learning to scrape with ScraperWiki) and the moderation idea is to integrate meta-moderation where viewers can help moderate but also the content carries it’s own meta-moderation in terms of social media likes/+/mentions. The main strength I see is in transparency. Everyone can see what’s going in and what’s being approved/marked as spam. Also, you can’t submit content without a justification and a link to your social media profile. So there’s no point in being an ass!

      I brewed this in a couple of hours and it only came to me recently. This is my second iteration and I only have time for one more. My main concern is that I don’t have the necessary skills to build a MVP.

      Timeline is the only events-based overview. This will be a one off discussion and is the ‘finishability’ for that point in time. It’ll be a lot of work so I see the journalism in deciding when to deploy it. But having the content come to you in the form of the ‘Big Bucket’ is a neat thing to have for the newsroom. Let your users bring it to you and give them kudos by giving them their say on the matter. You can almost wait for the bucket to fill with great content before deciding to launch a ‘Big Discussion’ and you can leave it to refill again for big issues like the phone hacking scandal.

      My main concerns are 1) Will this be too much work to be worthwhile, for the newsroom and the viewers ; 2) What issues will arise is republishing content that is not the intelectual property right of the news organisation; and 3) How do we test the software for scalability

  2. […] I got my extra thinking from, with a talk through of the design slides GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

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