A hint of things to come
Mar 2nd, 2006 by JTJ

We tend to comment more on analytic methods than news delivery techniques, but today we offer an interesting example of the latter.  Ifra, the European-based newspaper training — and R&D — organization, publishes something called newspaper techniques ePaper.  It is published IoP (ink-on-paper), but there is also an online version.  Check it out at the link below.  It is easier to read if you have a tablet PC with a vertical/portrait display mode.  (Someday, every screen will have an easy-to-rotate mode, we hope.)  Still, the quality of the delivered package here is better than anything we've seen coming out of the North American media or media association efforts.

Dear media professional,

Newspaper techniques is now also available in a state-of-the-art
digital version!

Try it free this month at .

nt ePaper is one-for-one the same as the paper edition — same
content, same presentation, same impact. Its advanced technology
leverages the familiar and effective page-turning reading
experience, enhanced with embedded links to the rich content of
newspaper techniques' microsites at

— Special introductory offer: Subscribe to the newspaper techniques
ePaper edition for the rest of 2006 for just 54 Euros.

E-mail for information.

The Ifra Publications team “

More on e-paper
Feb 11th, 2006 by JTJ

Belgium: e-paper test launch

By EditorsWeblog

Tijd, the Antwerp based daily with Belgium's highest online readership,
will be the world's first paper to launch a digital version, for a
three month trial period beginning in April 2006. The paper will take
the form of a portable electronic device; a paper thin screen the size
of a newspaper page. Users will connect to the internet with the device
and download their newspaper. Updates will be provided throughout the
day. 200 subscribers to the newspaper will be able to take part in this
initiative. The paper can be read indoors or outside. Based on an
estimated use time of three hours per day, the device's battery would
last for a week. The device has a storage capacity of 244 megabytes;
the equivalent of a month's worth of newspapers, thirty books and
office documents in different formats. E Ink, creators of the
electronic ink technology integral to the initiative, are working on
developing coloured ink; currently 16 different shades of grey are
available. Added video and sound features could take up to 10 years to
develop.Readers will be able to write comments and scribble on the
paper by using a special marker. Interactive advertising will also be
featured. Source: M&C Tech (through the IFRA newsletter)

Taking games seriously
Nov 23rd, 2005 by Tom Johnson

Serious Games Initiative

The Serious Games Initiative is focused on uses for games
in exploring management and leadership challenges
facing the public sector. Part of its overall charter
is to help forge productive links between the
electronic game industry and projects involving the use of
games in education, training, health, and public policy.

Says information specialists Marylaine Block:

 “As one who believes nobody should be allowed to run for office until they have played

Sim City for at least six months, I think such games have enormous

potential for helping people explore complex social problems and possible


More churning in the mapping API world
Nov 4th, 2005 by JTJ

announcement from Yahoo Maps this week.  Seems as though Google,
Yahoo and Amazon (with it's A9 entry) are starting to look like three
NASCAR competitors on the backstretch of the lap before the finish
line.  Here's the latest from Yahoo:


November 02, 2005

Announcing New Maps APIs

In June of this year, we gave developers the ability to overlay
geographic data on a Yahoo! Map. Since then, we've seen a lot of
terrific maps mash-ups. But you wanted more. You wanted the ability to
embed Yahoo! Maps on your own Web site. You wanted to programmatically
convert addresses into geocoded longitude/latitude pairs. You wanted
more data feeds, such as highway traffic and local data, to plot on a
map. But most importantly, you wanted a user experience that's better
than any online mapping product out there.

Today we build on the success of the Simple Maps API
by adding several new APIs for Yahoo! Maps. These products enable
developers to use Yahoo! Maps in exciting new ways — including
embedding maps on your Web site.

With this release, we are providing:

Of course, the Simple Maps API
we released in June is still there, giving developers and
non-developers the ability to plot locations on Yahoo! Maps with no
programming and no rate limits.

We're giddy with excitement about this release, and we can't wait to
see how you use the new APIs. We know there's lot to digest here, so if
you have questions, feedback, or just want to show off what you've
done, please join us in the yws-maps group.

Jeffrey McManus

Director, Yahoo! Developer Network

Helluva deal on ArcView for IRE members
Oct 19th, 2005 by Tom Johnson

GIS software discount for IRE members

Return to IRE Training

Members of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., qualify for
discounts on geographic information system (GIS) software from ESRI,
the publisher of ArcView.
ESRI is offering ArcView GIS single use licenses at no charge to IRE
who agree to attend a GIS training event conducted by IRE and
NICAR or ESRI. Purchasers must sign a three-year maintenance agreement
with ESRI at a cost of $ 400 a year, with the first year's fee waived.
ArcView, the GIS program most widely used by journalists, lists for
$1,500. During the maintenance agreement period, purchasers will
receive software upgrades and technical support.

IRE members must attend a qualifying training session within one
year of entering the agreement with ESRI, which is based in Redlands
Calif., and has been a regular exhibitor at the annual IRE and CAR
Qualifying sessions are IRE and NICAR's Mapping Data for News Stories
mini-boot camp, offered two times a year with the next scheduled for
Jan. 6-8, 2006; an online ESRI Virtual Campus course, and ESRI
classroom training.

For more information about IRE and NICAR training visit IRE Training . For more information about ESRI training see
IRE members can also purchase discounted extension programs, which
expand the analytical capabilities of ArcView. The single-license cost
for Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst and Geostatistical Analyst is $1,500
each. That is a 40 percent discount off the list price of $2,500 each.
To obtain an order form, please contact John Green, membership services
coordinator for IRE, at or 573-882-2772.

Merging GIS, Googlemaps, and The News
Aug 9th, 2005 by Tom Johnson


Innovative software pinpoints news by location

Posted: 2 August 2005 By: Jemima Kiss


New tool maps out global newsA UK firm has developed a free, innovative tool that plots breaking news by location.

Developed by Birmingham-based technology firm Daden, NewsGlobe can combine Google's geographic search engine Google Earth with the user's favourite RSS news feeds to present stories on a local, regional or international map.

application scans headlines for keywords that identify the location of
the story, and then presents them by headline with the location
pinpointed. A summary of the story appears when the user hovers over
the text and they can click through to the full story on the original
news site.

The popularity of RSS news feeds and projects such as BBC Backstage
has triggered a wave of creative RSS-based tools from the web
developing community, said Daden's managing director David Burden.

Backstage was launched in May and encourages developers to use selected
BBC content and software to create new applications. Recent
contributions to the project have been a Flash-based news reader
program and traffic maps.

“There has been an explosion of activity in the past four to five months driven by RSS,” said Mr Burden.

are exploring the possibilities of moving information from one format
to another; this application simply uses Google Earth as a news

As well as providing a geographical view of
breaking news, the application has interesting commercial possibilities
for companies with specific or wide ranging regional interests such as
estate agents or billboard advertisers.

To use NewsGlobe, web users must have Google Earth installed. More information is available on Daden's website.

Yes, editors sometimes do spoil a good thing
Jul 7th, 2005 by JTJ

We agree, there can be many reasons not to run a map in the IoP
(Ink-on-Paper) version of a newspaper.  And maps are sometimes run
more as a graphic element in the page design than as a tool to tell a
story in a better way.  (Although this seems to happen less as
“design and information consciousness” has
percolated through
journalism thanks to organizations like the
Society for News Design.)  
Still, if a decision is made to use a map, then that graphic should
add to the readers' understanding of usually complex data.

Last week, the
Palm Beach [Florida] Post
carried a map showing the home county of U.S. troops killed in Iraq. 
The problem is, the KIA map shows the number killed without taking into
account the size of the population from which those troops were
recruited.  Is there a better way?  Of course, and the folks in the newsroom trenches had produced one: a
map showing
the KIA's relative to the population of the county where the soldiers
were from.  This one, of course, supplies some of the appropriate
context.  The problem was, the editors decided to publish the
traditional-but-misleading map. 


Here is another on the same topic:

Obituary: Steven Roth / Maya Viz founder
Jun 14th, 2005 by JTJ

Roth was one of those guys who could see farther than most of us and,
even more rare, make that vision a reality.  He died in his sleep
this past weekend in his home near Pittsburgh.  The Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette obit sub-hed: “One of the pioneers in field of
'information visualization' a 'reluctant

Roth was a founder of Maya Viz Ldt.,
one of the  more interesting firms to emerge from the Carnegie
Mellon University's Robotics Institute in the 1990s.  Maya Viz
took infographics to higher levels of graphic clarity and data

“Described as 'dreamer,' a 'visionary' and most often, 'incredibly
passionate' by his colleagues, Mr. Roth was probably best known for his
oft-spoken desire to 'change the world' by developing software that
allowed complex data and numerical information to be represented
graphically, and in a way that humans could better see, use and
manipulate it.”

Presenting data aesthetically
Jun 12th, 2005 by JTJ

Here's one of those online sites that will keep us browsing for hours.  “Information Aesthetics
weblog says it's about “form follows data – towards creative
information visualiztion.”  Indeed so.  How about links to:

  • Faucet Friend: a slip-on visualization device that dynamically changes color according
    to the temperature of the water that is exiting the faucet spout. this
    device attempts to avoid burns from scalding water at the kitchen or
    bathroom faucet by giving the user an inexpensive way to ascertain, at
    a glance, key temperature ranges.

  • Infotube: spatialization of information for virtual environments. as a clear
    example of 'cyberspace architecture', the space is entirely built up by
    information itself instead of simulating a real shopping street mapped
    in 3D space. users can literally browse through the infotubes, & be
    aware of shops, products, visitors & popularity (represented by
    orthogonal branches).

  • Google Ridefinder:  a 'street usage' visualization based on the real-time Google ridefinder maps that display the geographical position of SuperShuttles
    (buses that travel between hotels & airports) in New York. this map
    is generated from data gathered over 5 days, queried every 5 minutes,
    with each red dot representing a single SuperShuttle. one can clearly
    perceive the Manhattan outlines, possible coffee shops in Queens &
    favorite traffic bottle necks (e.g. bridges & tunnels).

The principles are here showing how creative journalism might deliver pertinent data/information to the people.

Information Aesthetics is updated often.

So why can't this sourcing thing be fixed?
May 23rd, 2005 by JTJ

It can. 

The NYT this morning tells us that “Big News Media Join in Push to Limit Use of Unidentified Sources.”  Readers are told:

Concerned that they may have become too free in granting anonymity to sources, news organizations including USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, NBC News and The New York Times are trying to throttle back their use.
some journalists worry that these efforts could hamper them from doing
their jobs – coming in a hothouse atmosphere where mistrust of the news
media is rampant, hordes of newly minted media critics attack every
misstep on the Web, and legal cases jeopardize their ability to keep
unnamed news sources confidential….
Last year, The New York Times adopted a more stringent approach to its
treatment of confidential sources, including a provision that the
identity of every unidentified source must be known to at least one
editor. A committee of the paper's journalists recently recommended
that the top editors put in place new editing mechanisms to ensure that
current policies are enforced more fully and energetically.”

We look forward to these “new editing mechanisms.”

Yes, policies on unnamed sources should be made,
those policies should be clear and everyone in the newsroom should know
what they are.  But more often (as in “every day”), editors must
know the sources — indeed, all sources
— are for a story, how to reach those souces and how to verify what
the reporter wrote, even if the reporter is out-of-pocket. 

This is not difficult if journalists recognize that a
PC-based word processing application already has the tools to assist in
this “Who Are The Sources” mission. (If the publication is still using
something like the old Coyote terminals, sorry, we probably can't
help  you.) 

The tool is the “comment” function in the word processor.  While the newsroom is making policies about sourcing, add this one: “Every
paragraph of every story will end with an embedded comment.  That
comment will show editors exactly how the reporter knows what he or she
just wrote.”
  The comment might include a source's name,
phone number and date-time-place of interview.  The comment might
include a URL or a bibliographic citation.  It might include
reference to the specific reporter's notebook.  But in the end,
the comments should be sufficient that an editor can “walk the cat
backward” to determine exactly how the reporter knows what he/she just
wrote.  Doing so helps prevent unwarranted assumptions and errors
of fact, if not interpretation.

There will be those of the Burn-Your-Notes School of
libel defense who will contend this is comment thing is suicidal. 
We would suggest, first, that very few stories ever become court
cases.  Secondly remember that truth is the first defense in libel
actions, and it is our responsibility to deliver that truth.

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