Doing well by doing good
May 19th, 2005 by JTJ

at the IAJ we believe one of the reasons people come to newspapers or
broadcast stations is to get the data which, upon analysis, they can
turn into information that helps them make decisions.  Ergo, the
more meaningful data a journalistic institution can provide, the
greater value that institution has for a community.

A good example arrived today thanks to Tara Calishain, creator of ResearchBuzz.  She writes:

** Getcher Cheap Gas Prices on Google Maps


when I was saying that I would love a Gasbuddy / Google Maps mashups
that showed cheap gas prices along a trip route?   Turns out
somebody has already done it —  well, sorta. You can specify a
state, city  (only selected cities are available) and 
whether you're looking for regular or diesel  fuel. Check it out

The data driving the map is ginned up by 
It's not clear how or why GasBuddy gets its data, but it offers some
story potential for journalists and data for news researchers.  It
has an interesting link to dynamic graphs of gas prices over time.

Surely the promotion department of some news organization could grab
onto this tool, tweak it a bit,  promote the hell out of it, and
drive some traffic to and build loyalty for the organization's web

That's the obvious angle, but what if some enterprising journo started
to ask some questions of the data underlying the map?  What's the
range in gas prices in our town/state?  (In Albuquerque today, the
range was from $2.04 to $2.28.)  Are there any demographic or
traffic flow match-ups to that price range?  How 'bout the
variance by brand? 

Would readers appreciate this sort of data?  We think so,
especially if there was an online sign-up and the news provider would
deliver the changing price info via e-mail or IM much like Travelocity
tells us when airline ticket prices change by TK dollars.

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