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Archive for March 2010

Database Journalism

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Matt Carroll

Matt Carroll of the Boston Globe came to explain the concept of database journalism to our class. Carroll, an admitted computer nerd pointed out that working with numbers is something that journalists typically don’t like. Seeing as journalists tend to be more English/History versus Math/Science, Carroll understands where they’re coming from, but emphasized the fact that great stories can be found by just examining raw data.

“Data can compare people and towns and then lead to questions as to why things are the way they are,” he said.

Carroll’s first example was regarding a story he did on the topic of gun licenses in Massachusetts. After analyzing all the data he was able to plot his findings. Among the plethora of graphs, Carroll went with a map of Massachusetts with all the information available by county by just scrolling over that section of the map. He also pointed out that the graphs you decide to use vary on the information you’re trying to portray–Carroll recommended many-eyes.com, a great web site, which offers an extensive array of graphs for a given project.

Unfortunately, for all the benefits of database journalism, there are some perils attached. You have to be careful, he said, because you may sometimes mess up the numbers and then the results won’t make sense. He used an example of car accidents by hour that he did. Carroll couldn’t figure out why there were so many accidents occurring at midnight–the he realized he’d mixed up 12:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

It’s little mistakes that are treacherous to a journalist working with databases. “It’s all about the numbers, and you have to be careful with them,” he said.

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Written by lhpious

March 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Pru-rific

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Click to see more pictures

For anybody coming to Boston, there are two buildings that stand out: the John Hancock building and the Prudential building. Though be careful, if you’re in Beantown, don’t say Prudential, just call it “the Pru.”

On the 50th floor of the Pru there is an observation deck called the “Skywalk Observatory” and its windows circle 360 degrees–in my opinion, this observation deck offers the best view of Boston.

One of the great qualities of the Skywalk is its availability. They’re open seven days a week from 10:00am-10:00pm during the summer hours (April- November) and for their winter hours  (November- March) they’re also open seven days a week from 10:00 am- 8:00 pm (but not on Christmas day).

Admission varies: Adults are $12.00, children under 12 are $8.00, seniors (62+) are $10.00, and if you have a valid college ID it’s also $10.00.  These rates include an audio tour, a multi-media theater show, and a Dreams of Freedom museum. Active duty military and those with a dependent ID card receive free admission, as well as those with a valid MTA card.

The Skywalk is a thrill to go to because the elevator you take up 50 floors is one of the fastest you’ll ever be in. And since nobody in their right mind would deliberately walk up 50 flights of stairs, these speedy elevators make this attraction absolutely handicap accessible.

Written by lhpious

March 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

AS.com

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If you’re like me, well, then that’s a plus.

All kidding aside, if you’re a sports fan, and an read and understand Spanish, then I’ve got the web site for you.  AS.com is a wealth of athletic knowledge and if you have any interest, then they’ll satisfy your urge. A word of warning, however, is that this site is mainly Spanish (and European) focused, so most of the content is regarding Spanish soccer and Euroleague Basketball.

If you go straight to their home page, it’s mostly about soccer, or fútbol, with a few other stories on other sports. However, if soccer isn’t your thing, then don’t be discouraged because there are plenty of other options. Just look at the top of the page for the drop  down menus and you’ll be able to chose from: tennis, basketball, motor sports (F1), cycling, and others, as well as an opinion and blog sections by respected AS writers. AS also  incorporates video clips from various sporting events to see the weeks best goals, dunks, etc.

One thing I love about this site is that it’s a local site. Like I said a few weeks ago when I spoke about globalpost.com, there’s no reporting like local reporting. I firmly believe that if you have the chance to read the local viewpoint of a situation or event then you are reading the best version of what happened. By reading AS, I’m reading the Spanish perspective on Spanish soccer, on the country’s best tennis player, Rafael Nadal, on Spanish cyclist or Spanish racers. I have the opportunity to read about what these people feel passionate about, and that truly reflects in the writing.

If I could change something about the site, I guess I would have to say that it would be nice to have content in my first language, English, but as one of my classmates brought up, English content would detract the local angle aspect which, in my opinion, makes AS a great news source.

Written by lhpious

March 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

Mapping Journalism

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When incorporating multimedia into today’s journalism, a new tool is now easily available to journalists–mapping. The most contemporary aspect of mapping locations today is being used on peoples mobile devices, namely cell phones. Google Maps has created an application for the iPhone, among other devices which gives an individual the ability use this GPS technology wherever they go.

As consumers of this new technology, we can really enjoy some great benefits. If you’re the person who is always getting lost, now you won’t be. Another ability of these maps is to show a plotted course and help an individual understand where people have been and where they’re going. This Tour de France map from 2008 is a perfect example of how the map can have information attached. Just place your curser over the numbers indicating the stage and a little window pops up telling you the stage winner, overall leader, and a link to an article about that stage and the Tour so far.

In today’s era of “I want everything now,” this mapping technology helps people get to where they want with greater speed. This mapping ability also comes with links to your desired destination. If you, for example want to find coffee in and around Northeastern University, then there’s a map for that as well. With these maps, you can just click on the icon where the coffee shop is and then you’ll get some handy information, like the address, hours, and the price for a medium coffee.

One you’ve found your desired destination, you can even get directions to the location. Mapping poses so many benefits that it’s strange to think that this technology can possibly have any negatives. However, sometimes the information you receive is a bit confusing to understand and may be a bit misleading. Election maps that show “red states” and “blue state” will depict which way the state went, but it the overall image may be much more of one color when that color doesn’t even win. This 2008 presidential election map is a perfect example of how even though many states voted one way, to make a map like that may be misleading.

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Written by lhpious

March 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

Newcomers to New Media

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I grew up in Los Angeles with a pretty tight knit group of friends. If you had to put us in one of those classical Hollywood high school groups, it would be a mix of jocks and surfers, mainly because we did both. I played soccer (along with some others), some played basketball and others were into the aquatics (swimming and water polo). The thing is, we were all, to some extent, athletic and could at the very least, hold our own in some pick-up basketball or football.

Now as we’re growing up, it’s becoming harder for us to find time, to all get together. Some have stayed in L.A. while others, like myself, have left the city for school. We’re all back at Christmas time, but then again, some of us go trips with our families to the local mountains for a ski/snowboard trip. Either way you break it down, it’s tough for our whole crew to get together.

Social media has really helped things along. Now, all but one of us has a facebook account, so we can “stalk” each other that way, we play in an annual fantasy basketball league with Yahoo! so we can, as the box says, “talk smack” about someones team (or squad as we like to call it), and just recently some one of them decided to start his own web site, then he posted a link to another one. So now, I’m just doing the buddy thing and giving them a shout out.

Jeremy Hassan blogs on his site about “all things Los Angeles…good places to party, eat, hang out, good movies, things to do, places to see, and so much more.” Maybe you’re not from L.A. but you’ll certainly be going there at some point or perhaps have some friends in your group who are going there and his site, mrjeremyhassan.com, will definitely be a good place to get a quick pointer or two on where to go and what to do.

If you’re into basketball and sneakers, then my other buddy Charlie Oriel has you covered. His blog, charlesoriel.com, has his experienced opinion on what’s going on with sneaker releases as well as all your insane basketball highlights from the high school level, all the way up to the pros.

They’re both also interested in all your comments so let them hear your thoughts early and often!

Written by lhpious

March 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Final Project

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For my final project I’m planning on interviewing Evan Brunell, who is a sports writer and the founder of MVN.com, a site, that unfortunately shut down. He basically created a sports information network, an online radio show to go along with the site, and he is venturing into other new mediums of media to continue his sports endeavors.

Written by lhpious

March 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Class

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Twitter as News

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Syracuse University was pretty much penned in as a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament for about a month. Their first round match against the University of Vermont proved to be something like a competitive practice. Syracuse dominated the entire game, that is, with the exception of the 15-2 UVM run at the end of the first half.

I covered the game on my twitter, and have decided that, as a news covering platform, twitter isn’t really that great. Perhaps, it would have been a bit more practical and useful if I covered something small because then my posts may be the only way someone could find the information on whatever event I was covering.

I did what I could to keep my followers interested and threw in personal observations and opinions to give my tweets my own personal flavor. Check out my twitter page and tell me how I did!

Written by lhpious

March 19, 2010 at 10:57 pm