The Elements of online Journalism

One of the fringe benefits of married life is having someone to get you those Christmas gifts you can’t bring your self to buy. And for me those gifts are books. And the week between Christmas and New Year is the best time to read them.

One of my books is “The Elements of Online Journalism” by Rey G. Rosales. Its a nice little overpriced pamphlet of a book topping off at 50 pages. Its targeted to existing journalist who are interested in online journalism. Rosales suggests that there is more to online journalism than just reprinting new paper articles and photos. He talks a lot about flash animations that allow the reader to view and explore data.

This is the type of stuff I’m interested in. Why aren’t there more examples of this out there. There are a few apps out there that do a good job of this. For the last presidential election one newspaper generate a flash animation that let you play what if scenarios with the electoral college. The app would categorize states in to 5 groups depending on how likely Bush or Kerry was to win the state with an undecided group right in the middle. The user could assign electoral votes to one president or another and see how close the candidate was winning. A use could get a much better understanding of the race than any news paper article could give them.

So why are there not more of these animations. Where is the animation showing the time line of the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Or showing how the housing boom busted. Why is there not a company that all it does is generate these animations and then rent or sell them to newspapers and other media outlets. A few mentions on Slashdot or digg should pay for the operating cost of a couple of Indian programmers and a couple of guys in the states designing and selling the ideas.

I have two more books to read “Flash Journalism” by Mindy McAdams and Visualizing Data by Ben Fry. Flash Journalism gives more examples of the journalistic flash animations mentioned above. Visualizing data is about communicating data with graphs. Another excellent read.

Written on January 3, 2008