Guardian Witness: The Guardian’s experiment with citizen journalism is exactly what student media needs
This morning, the Guardian released Guardian Witness. Described by The Guardian: ‘Share your view of the world - Your chance to have videos, photos and stories featured on the Guardian’, the website and corresponding app allows anyone to submit photos, videos, and text to the Guardian.
The editorial team at The Guardian will be suggesting ‘assignments’ (current ones include Views of tall buildings, The cuts get personal, and Syria refugees: your stories) that users of the app are able to contribute their own content to.
The Guardian have made it as easy to submit content to their assignments, as it is to tweet a photo from an event, or share a video onto YouTube.
Student media, often plagued by the inability to gather together good content and stories, should definitely take note. University campuses are now filled with thousands of students, most of whom have smartphones. When looking for the next big story, or photos and video from an event, it’s easy to see how an app like this, that connects the newsroom to the students, could be really useful. Not only would the newsroom have an abundance of content and material, but students would be able to get their photos and videos featured as the story develops, their own 30 seconds of fame.
Embracing students in this way is great for student media. It helps their image, encourages students to engage with stories, share stories with their friends (getting more clicks, reads, likes, and so on), and maybe students will start getting more involved in student media.
You can watch a video of the app in action here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/video/2013/apr/16/guardian-witness-promo-video
What do you think? Should people be giving their content away to The Guardian for free? Or are we doing it anyway on Twitter and other social networks, and is it a clever move by The Guardian to bring that content together?
data visualization is a halfway house
(Image credit: A.Koblin for RadioHead)
This is a phrase that has stuck with me since Tim O’Reilly uttered some form of it two years ago. Tim was talking about online cartography, saying it’s not the maps that matter: it’s getting to our destination. Maps are a half-step short of that goal. And in a world of navigational algorithms and self-driving cars, maps become less useful as tools.
Likewise, data visualization is a halfway house: a stopping place on the path from data to decision.
Building the Redbrick US Elections Hub
Cross-posted on Redbrick
A hub which is ‘living’To create a site which was living and would provide updates when they came in, rather than when the reader refreshes their page, the web-service Pusher has been used in our ‘Latest Updates’ sidebar. Pusher allows us to send live updates into a page after it has been loaded by the user, meaning that if new content comes in, we can add it to the page. These updates can be anything from tweets, quotes & headlines from articles, images, data and more. They can quickly and easily transmit short bursts of information to keep people in the loop. In addition to our liveblog (powered by ScribbleLive), this provides a way of linking to more media rich content, and we can be more selective about what takes prominence.
A hub which encourages ‘second screening’Since the release of the iPad just over two years ago, the rise in ‘second screening’ has been well documented. Second screening is changing the way people watch television. Instead of solely concentrating on one screen, viewers may follow a Twitter feed on their phone, watch interactive graphics develop on their tablet as a show is broadcast, or discover live data-feeds from a sporting even like the F1. Our US Elections hub provides just that: a way for readers, if they wish, to watch coverage from the likes of the BBC, whilst also enjoying commentary and graphics from student journalists at Redbrick. On desktop, tablet, or mobile, our US Elections hub looks great.
A hub which is simple and easy to digestIf we’re to tell the story of the US Elections to the best of our ability, it has to be easy for our readers to delve in, find what they’re looking for, and see what they need to know. We’ve built a number of different layouts into the back-end of the hub, meaning we can place focus on particular stories when needed, or remove focus when not. In the ‘Latest Updates’ sidebar, tweets and quotes are clearly labelled, and relative dates are used to indicate how long ago an article was written in minutes, hours or days, making it easy to see how recent an article is.
And finally…MappingI’m a geographer at heart, and with something like the US Elections, location and spatial scale mean everything. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) are the perfect tool for creating interactive mapping, and tools like Leaflet and the Open Data movement help to make this possible on the web. The above map will feature on our US Elections homepage, and be updated throughout Tuesday night - as results for states come in, they will be coloured to represent that. By the end of the night, we should get a better understanding of how the United States has voted. Our live-coverage starts at 10pm tonight on www.redbrick.me/us.
At The Guardian: One week on
It only seems like yesterday since I started my placement at The Guardian. One week on, and it’s been exciting, enjoyable, and a brilliant insight into the world of modern British media.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I contributed to The Guardian’s Paralympic live blogs (see here and here), reporting directly, as-it-happens, on one of the greatest sporting events the world has ever seen - pretty exciting. Thank you to @PaulTOwen for offering his time to give me this opportunity.
By Thursday I was back with the Digital Development team, working on a specific feature of a new project they’re working on. Over the course of Thursday and Friday I perfected some code, working with and a designer, and was able to submit it for use in the final release. To be able to contribute some of my own work to a final product from The Guardian is certainly a proud moment. (Earlier this year I also contributed code to a project at The Times, see here).
It’s time for me to head back to Kings Place now for my final two days, where I will hopefully be spending some time working at The Guardian’s Datastore.
Be back soon!