Geotagging and geodata

NPR experiments with local news headlines on national home page

People who visit in 13 cities around the country will see local news headlines on the home page for the next month. It’s an experiment to see if NPR can use its website to bring attention to member stations’ newsgathering. For one group of stations (WBURWNYCWAMUWHYYWFIUKPCC and North Country Public Radio), the headlines link directly to stories on the member stations’ sites.

For a second group (Michigan RadioKPLUKQEDKUT,Oregon Public Broadcasting and Boise State Public Radio), the headlines link to story pages on, but the pages carry the member stations’ branding and have prominent links to their Facebook pages. “Our goal here is to build longterm audience growth through a connection between the local user and the station’s Facebook page,” write Bob Kempf and Mark Stencel in a blog post. Read more


Nonprofit news sites won’t have to pay to use Google Maps API

Nieman Journalism Lab | Google Geo Developers Blog
Google has responded to concerns about its plans to charge to use the Google Maps API, which powers all kinds of map-based news applications. The company now says it won’t start charging until a site exceeds the usage limit for 90 consecutive days, and it won’t charge nonprofit organizations (although one wonders whether Google will rely on the IRS to decide what counts as a nonprofit). “Nonprofit news orgs look to be in the clear, and Google could declare other news org maps apps to be ‘in the public interest’ and free to run,” writes Josh Benton. The new limits take effect in 2012. || Earlier: News developers worried about new cost to use Google Maps Read more


News developers worried about new cost to use Google Maps

ProgrammableWeb | | ReadWriteWeb
If the developers in your newsroom seem unusually stressed this week, it’s probably because Google will start charging for use of the Google Maps API after Jan. 1. “An era has ended for the first API that really made mashups mainstream,” writes ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick. For basic maps, Google will allow 25,000 uses of the API free per day (9.125 million a year). That drops to 2,500 per day (912,500 a year) for maps that use custom styles. Above that, Google will start charging by the use or try to sell an “enterprise” license. According to Serdar Tumgoren, a developer at The Washington Post, that license costs $10,000 for a million page views a year and goes up to $40,000 for 5 million a year. Read more


Data visualization ‘on another level’ compared to a few years ago

Wilson Andrews, The Washington Post’s information designer, discusses his data visualizations and the progress of the field in a Forbes interview. “The kinds of graphics that are now being done, especially online, are on another level than what was being produced several years ago,” he says. “Long form journalism is just as important as it ever was, but often long form pieces are greatly enhanced by smart and clear data visualization.” He says that he starts with the simplest possible design, only adding movement and interactive elements if they will help people understand the information. Examples of his work are in the interview. Related: WNYC’s John Keefe finished up his New York evacuation map as he rode the subway to work last week. Read more


Knight News Challenge gives $1.5 million to projects that filter, examine data

The Knight Foundation is directing almost a third of its $4.7 million in News Challenge grants this year to help journalists and the public organize and analyze data and documents.

In different ways, several of these projects seek to solve the persistent challenges of journalists working on investigative and daily stories: how to make sense of vast amounts of data and find the stories within.

“Journalists are now drowning in documents and data,” said Jonathan Stray, interactive technology editor for The Associated Press. “The tools we have to deal with this are actually pretty primitive.”

Stray’s project, Overview, will develop advanced, open-source tools to help journalists tackle these real-world problems. Overview will use data visualizations to help journalists explore data, discover relationships among them and zoom in for a closer look. Read more

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Holovaty: EveryBlock’s new community focus will ‘help you make your block a better place’

Monday afternoon, EveryBlock announced a major shift in focus, from a geographically-based, hyperlocal news site to a “platform for discussion around neighborhood news.”

In describing the changes, founder Adrian Holovaty wrote on the EveryBlock Blog that the site is moving away from a one-way, data-oriented news feed to a platform for human interaction based on that news:

While we’re not removing our existing aggregation of public records and other neighborhood information (more on this in a bit), we’ve come to realize that human participation is essential, not only as a layer on top but as the bedrock of the site.

“With this in mind, we’ve changed our site to be oriented around community discussion. The EveryBlock experience is still centered around places — blocks, neighborhoods, custom locations — but we’ve rebuilt it from the ground up to be about participation more than passive consumption.

Read more

News Organizations Publish WikiLeaks Documents With Caution, Innovation

Elusive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is scheduled to appear in London on Monday with Daniel Ellsberg, best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971. The appearance follows the Friday release of about 400,000 classified documents related to the war in Iraq.

Ellsberg spoke with “Democracy Now” about the leak of these documents:

“It is a leak on a scale I couldn’t have done 40 years ago without scanners and digital capability. … I’m glad to express my support of what WikiLeaks is doing and its sources in particular. … It is the wrong secrecy of information like this that got us into Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq or has kept the war going in Afghanistan.”

Ellsberg also tweeted (through his son): “I’ve waited 40 years for a release of documents on this scale.”

WikiLeaks partnered with traditional news organizations in releasing the documents, as it did in July. Read more


4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage

Monday and Tuesday, about 40 journalists are gathering at Poynter to learn how they can use free digital services to cover government more effectively. They’ll learn how to share and annotate documents, share data on politicians and lobbyists, understand voting patterns and create data visualizations.

We live blogged four presentations about:

  • Sunlight Foundation: How to use data to cover politicians, lobbyists and campaign contributors
  • Tableau: How to use data visualization to tell interactive stories

The live blogs are archived below. You also can view a live stream of the seminar through 4 p.m. ET today.

Archived blog from the Tableau presentation:

<a href=”″ >Liveblogging Today: 4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage</a>

Archived blog from the DocumentCloud, Sunlight Foundation and Patchwork Nation presentations:
 <a href=”″ >Liveblogging Today: 4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage</a> Read more


Updated augmented reality browser aggregates location-based information

The augmented-reality company Layar announced a new version of its browser that will allow Android users to find location-based information visually, simply by using the browser. Previously, phone users had to enter a search, or open a “layar” (for instance, one that shows restaurants near you). Now, the dynamically-changing information presented will be sorted by “time, location, proximity, popularity and preferences.”

TechCrunch counts more than 700 layars in existence, with “several thousand” more in development. The companies new technology “supports any location-based object published into Layar, such as check-ins, coupons, status updates, gaming, information, 3D models and more.”

An updated version of the iPhone app is expected within a month.

So, how’s your location-based information strategy coming along?

>Layar revolutionizes Mobile Content Discovery with new Stream Technology powered browser (Layar blog)
>10 Questions to Help You Craft a Mobile Strategy (Before It’s Too Late) (Poynter’s Mobile Media) Read more


Crisis Commons project enables public to report oil spill info from their phones

Crisis Commons
Oil Reporter, a new project from Crisis Commons, is a data initiative that seeks to gather any and all public data on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The group has released iPhone and Android apps to enable the public to upload geotagged photos and information on the spill.

Using an open API, response and volunteer groups can customize Oil Reporter for their own use, submit data to the larger project and build more data collection elements. The project makes it clear (through a welcome screen on the site and through the apps) that all contributed data beyond the official sources is both public and unverified. Response groups can ask to be matched with a volunteer mobile developer to get their own apps up and running. Read more

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