Features / Project
At the 2014 OpenNews code convening, we took on the task of making a reusable system that could allow other organizations to produce something sentiment grids with a bare minimum of technical know-how. The result was FourScore, a library that allows you to set a few configuration options to produce your very own interactive sentiment grid. It even works in IE8, and maybe doesn’t totally not work in IE7.
Just before Thanksgiving last year, a new novelty Twitter account gained notice in our newsroom. @NYTMinusContext, promising “All Tweets Verbatim From New York Times Content. Not Affiliated with New York Times.” tweeted fragments from Times articles that you might not think twice about while reading in article format. Isolated, though, these phrases can be absurd, surprising, and delightful.
Albert Sun from Interactive News team at the New York Times tells how they use Huginn, a Ruby on Rails project, to create automated agents and scheduled tasks.
Around 6:25 a.m. I was awakened by a jolt from slipping tectonic plates. The tremor didn’t last very long, and as soon as my window stopped rattling my first thought was to check for an email.
The HuffPost Predict-o-Tron is a tool we built to let people make their own March Madness bracket predictions using basketball statistics, expert ratings, and results from the past four tournaments.
There are some interesting tidbits to be found in the data, although they all need to be qualified with the understanding that model performance is based on only four years of data, which leaves us at risk of overfitting. This means that slider combinations that appear to do very well for the past four years may not continue to perform as well if expanded to the past 10 years. With that said, it looks like the experts are very good at picking a bracket, taller teams tend to do better than shorter teams, younger teams do better than older teams, and teams with more depth (both in scoring and playing time) do better than teams with less depth.
People tweet what they think, when they think it—and, crucially, we wanted to provide a visualization for the State of the Union speech which reflected that. This wouldn’t be a (shudder) word cloud based on frequencies but a way to track the conversation on Twitter as it was directly influenced by the President’s speech.
In the year-and-a-bit we’ve been publishing Source, we’ve built up a solid archive of project walkthroughs, introductions to new tools and libraries, and case studies. They’re all tagged and searchable, but as with most archives presented primarily in reverse-chron order, pieces tend to attract less attention once they fall off the first page of a given section. We’ve also been keeping an eye out for ways of inviting in readers who haven’t been following along since we started Source, and who may be a little newer to journalism code—either to the “code” or the “journalism” part.
If you want to show information with a geographical component, you should start with a map, right? Not so fast, writes Tasneem Raja. Questioning your assumptions can help you make something much more effective.
The Reuters Graphics team’s unusual Fed interactive grabbed our attention when it appeared late last month and sparked some interesting conversations on Twitter. Reuters Global Head of Graphics Maryanne Murray and Interactive Data Designer Charlie Szymanski kindly wrote up their rationale and process for us.
More things learned about process, expectations, and how to build a functioning team in two days, from Dan Sinker and the 2014 OpenNews Fellows.
KPCC developed a news app to track fires in California last summer. Chris Keller explains how, and what they’ve learned since.
Time’s interactive graphic editor explains how he built a not-so-random film blurb madlibs generator in the run-up to the Academy Awards.
David Eads wants to start a conversation about the power of data-driven journalism to engage and teach new developers, and he needs your feedback.
At the Chicago Tribune, we had a simple goal: to automatically tweet contributions to Illinois politicians of $1,000 or more, which campaigns are required to report within five business days. To see, in something approximating real time, which campaigns are bringing in the big bucks and who those big-buck-bearers are. The Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) has helpfully published exactly this data for years online, in a format that appears to have changed very little since at least the mid-2000s. There’s no API for this data, but the stability of the format is encouraging. A scraper is hardly an ideal tool for anything intended to last for a while and produce public-facing data, but if we can count on the format of the page not to change much over at least the next several months, it’s probably worth it.
Last month, while the team behind today’s NYT redesign were crunching away on final adjustments, another team at the Times launched Today’s Paper, an infinite-scrolling, offline-caching web app available to the paper’s subscribers. We spoke with three members of the team—a developer, a designer, and an editor—about the project’s challenges and ambitions.
The New York Times just launched the first piece of their sitewide redesign: new article pages, with other tweaks and nudges throughout the site. We spoke with two designers and a developer who worked on the project to learn about the tech choices, design ideas, and strategy behind the new look and feel.
The U.S. Treasury’s Daily Treasury Statement lists actual cash spending down to the million on everything the government spent money on each day, as well as how it funded the spending. But, the Treasury only releases these files in PDF or fixed-width text files like this one, making any analysis very difficult.
To liberate the data and make it easy to analyze federal money flows across time, we created Treasury.IO. The system we built downloads and parses the fixed-width files into a standard schema, creating a SQLite database that can be directly queried via a URL endpoint.