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October 07 2011


How Data Can Become an Evergreen Source for Newsrooms

Newsrooms don't fear too much news. They fear not enough news. With news on demand 24/7, the stream of information that journalists work with is becoming the commodity upon which they rely -- which is why "evergreen" stories are becoming a staple for the modern newsroom. What they need now are evergreen news sources.

So how can data be an evergreen news source? Traditionally, data was hard to work with. It had to be collected, cleaned, organized, and once the effort was made to produce something consumable, it was left to stagnate and rot over time. With ScraperWiki, we've structured our site so that incoming data on the web renews your database and the infrastructure organizing your data flow does not rot.

For use in the newsroom, however, the output needs to be streamed. Here a couple of things you can do:

Data Stress to RSS


Our Web API now has an option to make RSS feeds as a format. For example, a ScraperWiki user made a scraper that gets alcohol licensing applications for Islington in London. She wanted an RSS feed to keep track of new applications using Google Reader. Now all she needs to do is go to the Web API explorer, choose "rss2″ for the format, and enter a SQL statement into the query box. That way, she gets only what she wants into her reader without having to change the database.

The Early Data Bird Catches The Story

Scrape_No10One of our savvy users then used ifttt to turn an RSS feed into a Twitter feed. For food safety inspections in Walsall, follow @EatSafeWalsall. In fact, we have a couple of accounts tweeting out scraped data. For ministers', permanent secretaries' and special advisers' meetings, gifts and hospitalities at No.10 Downing Street, follow @Scrape_No10. For Edinburgh planning applications, follow @PlanningAppMap. For complaints made against judges in the U.K., follow @OJCstatements.

Because you can get data in the way you want, you can push data out the way you want and also keep the integrity of the original database. The sources of data for these accounts are very different, and the output scripts need to reflect the timing of the data release. However, all this work means sentences can be formed and hashtags attached. So if they start trending, you've got a story lead.

A New Breed of Data Reporter

I've been experimenting with data output from ScraperWiki. In fact, I've been talking to it. In preparation for our U.S. tour, I've created a new member of the virtual newsroom. So here's a little something I made earlier:

It's not what you can do for your data, it's what your data can do for you!

If you'd like to be a host or sponsor for a scraping event, email nicola[at]scraperwiki.com.

June 01 2010


TechCrunch: Pulse launch – are RSS news apps must-haves for the iPad?

TechCrunch reports on the launch of Pulse – the RSS-based news aggregator application created for the iPad by two US university graduate students Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta.

On sale for $3.99 [£2.76], the app is aimed to please both hardcore RSS reader users and people who are willing to pay top dollars for single publication apps. Pulse’s home screen renders stories from multiple sources on a dynamic mosaic interface. Swipe up and down to see headlines from various sources, and right and left to browse stories from a particular source.

Full story at this link…

The app gets a favourable review from TechCrunch and adds another point to Patrick Smith’s post last week arguing that RSS feeds beat any branded iPhone or iPad news app:

Of course, the everyday Man On The Clapham Omnibus doesn’t care or want to know about RSS, much less mobile apps that create a mobile version of their OPML file. But Journalism.co.uk readers are media professionals – and I’d wager that most of you are capable of using free or cheap software to create a mobile news experience that no branded premium app can match.

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