Futures Lab Update #100: Telling Stories With Satellite Imagery and Using Data for Breaking News

    by Reuben Stern
    April 2, 2015
    The New York Times has been experimenting with using publicly available government satellite data to help tell stories, especially in areas where reporters are not necessarily on the ground. Screenshot courtesy of RJI.

    This week we see how satellite data can be used for storytelling, and we learn some ways that data reporting can improve breaking-news coverage.

    "We can actually get more information about the breaking news -- to give to our viewers, our readers, to those who are online, if we're using an online platform -- we can do that in real time with data and information that is currently available on the Internet. All we need to do is have the skills, have the knowledge, and take the patience and the time to find it. " -- Stephen Stock, senior investigative reporter, NBC Bay Area

    PART 1: Storytelling with satellite images

    The New York Times often incorporates satellite imagery into graphic presentations to tell far-flung stories in new ways. Graphics editor Derek Watkins explains how he and his colleagues gather and use these publicly available images.
    Reporting by Katy Mersmann.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]




    PART 2: Data for breaking news

    Analyzing databases is often reserved for lengthy investigations, but some news organizations are benefiting from using big data to inform breaking-news coverage. We get some tips from Stephen Stock, senior investigative reporter at NBC Bay Area; and Cheryl Phillips, Hearst Professional in Residence and data journalism lecturer at Stanford University.
    Reporting by Tatiana Darie.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]


    Resources useful during breaking news coverage:

    • Investigative Reporters and Editors maintains a library of databases specifically for use by journalists. The data sets are free to IRE members but also can be purchased individually.
    • Geofeedia.com is a free platform that allows users to locate pictures, videos and other multimedia elements around a particular location.
    • OpenStatusSearch.com searches the Facebook public timeline without logging in. The site can be used to find victims, witnesses, neighbors, etc.
    • Banjo is a smartphone app that allows users to explore live events and breaking news through a collection of real-time posts from people around the world.
    • Capture offers publishers access to user material directly from social-media platforms and smartphone cameras.

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.

    FuturesLabWebBanner-mediashiftThe Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the iPad app to watch the show wherever you go. You can also sign up to receive email notification of each new episode.



    Tagged: breaking news data rji rji futures lab satellite imagery

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