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.

Sometimes I-o-P (Ink-on-Paper) <i><u>IS</i></u> better
Apr 6th, 2005 by JTJ

Ericson, the top-flight map/infographics journalist/designer at The New York
Times, produced another fine piece of work Tuesday related to changes
in the Roman Catholic world.  But what we get in print is superior
[click here to see IoP version] to the online version of the cartogram (i.e.
proportional map), which illustrates how the church has
grown in Latin America, Africa and Asia.  The print page positions
the RC world c. 1900 right next to the RC population c. 2005. 
Readers' eyes can quickly shift from one region to the other and see
the differences.  On the other hand, the online treatment of those
graphics, while supplying data for three different eras — 1900, 1978,
2005 — bring up each era individually, making it difficult to compare
one to the others.  Snazzy presentation, but at a loss of
comprehension.  Go to NYT story “Third World Represeents a New Factor in Pope's Succession” 
and click on the right column link for “Interactive: After John Paul
II.”  Then, after the java window pops up, click on “Changes in

<b>Xcelsius</b> — IAJ's "Best Digital Tool-of-the-Week"
Mar 26th, 2005 by JTJ

does magical things for your Excel spreadsheets.  It turns the
numeric data into controlable Flash charts, which can be standalone
“movies,” imported into PowerPoint or sent to colleagues as
click-and-manipulate e-mail.  Check out the Quicktime demos at

Gallery of Data Visualization
Mar 25th, 2005 by JTJ

This Gallery of Data Visualization displays some examples of the
Best and Worst of Statistical
, with the view that the contrast may be useful,
inform current practice, and provide some pointers to both historical and current work.
We go from what is arguably
the best statistical graphic ever drawn,
to the current record-holder for the worst.

Initial published description of the RRAW-P process
Mar 2nd, 2005 by JTJ

It was in the early '90s, when JTJ began thinking about and researching
the process that results in the journalist's product.  It
eventually boiled down to the RRAW-P process:
Research–>Reporting–>Analysis–>Writing and finally
Publishing/Producing/Packaging.  The attached paper first appeared
in the Social Science Computer Review in 1994.

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