computational journalism

I just heard about a fabulously interesting seminar at Infomedia on Computational Journalism – they’re planning on starting up a project about the use of software that gathers, computes and re-presents data in an editorial context, things like Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen. I’m not sure something like this is necessarily best viewed as journalism actually. Yesterday I read about, a website that pulls in data from ads about houses that are for sale and shows you how long each house has been on the market, how much the suggested price has dropped and so on – details that are very useful to a potential house buyer, but that advertisers and real estate agents have no interest in showing us. I would call a useful web service, but if had been created as part of a newspaper site, would it be “computational journalism”?

Interestingly, since yesterday most of the journalistic articles written about have used it to write classically journalistic stories: Her stupte boligprisene 15 prosent i fjor (“Prices dropped 15% here last year”), Ligger 95 dager i snitt (“On average 95 days to sell”), Stavanger-bolig kuttet fra fem til tre millioner (“Stavanger home dropped from five to three million”). But that means journalists can use web services – well, mashups, I guess – like this, not that the mashup itself is journalism, right?

The main speaker is Olav Anders ÿvreb¯, who’s done a lot of interesting work on blogging and journalism among other things, and the respondents are central actors in the Norwegian sphere of these things too.

Sadly I’m teaching just when the seminar’s running. I’ve cheekily asked whether I can bring my students, but I’m expecting a no – 25-30 students just won’t fit into that seminar room or, probably, the seminar format. Ah well.

13. January 2009 by Jill

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