Guardian lässt Leser die Richtung angeben

Obama während des Wahlkampfs in 2008. Foto von der AFL-CIO Gewerkschaft auf Flickr (Creative Commons).

This article is about the Guardian’s new project, creating a “citizen’s agenda” for election coverage. Read about it at the Nieman Lab.

Die US-Präsidentschaftswahl ist noch fast ein Jahr hin, doch amerikanische Medien berichten seit Monaten über das Wettrennen der Republikaner. Umfragen liefern endlosen Stoff, mal liegt der eine vorn, mal holt der andere auf. Doch was interessiert eigentlich die Leser?

Dieser Frage will sich jetzt der britische Guardian gemeinsam mit Journalismusstudenten der New York University annähnern. Sie nennen es die Agenda der Bürger.
Continue reading

Humor wins the Royal Wedding Day

The royal wedding happened, and we all made it out alive. Even the little flower girl who couldn’t take the noise during the royal couple’s balcony kiss, was captured on photo and inspired a number of sites.

News organizations spend copious resources to cover the event. “CNN will have a team of about 125 journalists and production staff assigned to cover the wedding,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Earlier, the WSJ had placed the number even higher, at 400, which it said was due to “erroneous information provided by the cable network.” Still, 125 journalists is a lot.

Photo via Flickr user Gerard Stolk.

It wasn’t just CNN who went a little wedding-crazy. The Daily Caller served local D.C. news organizations some snark for sending correspondents to London to “double up on the coverage already being provided by all three company’s foreign and national desks, as well as 8,000 other journalists from across the U.S. and around the globe.”

Naturally, the Caller itself also provided a good amount of reports, including play-by-play (“The Queen has just arrived at the Abbey”).

If there’s one organization that should be covering all bases of such an event, it’s the AP, seeing as it provides the backbone of many sites’ coverage. It didn’t disappoint, with tons of stories, sidebars, photos, tweets and graphics.

Best in show: The Guardian

The Guardian stood out in the flood of coverage, and I think that’s for two reasons. First, they know the royals and they know the story. No confusing Westminster Abbey with Buckingham Palace here.

Wonderfully, they didn’t take themselves so seriously. A button on the homepage allowed readers to tune out royal wedding coverage, their main post displayed just the right amount of detached irony, and they ran a news blog on all things not wedding-related.

I love that The Guardian had a sense of humor with the #royalwedding coverage. A button to hide it and a blog for news about other stuff.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

I also highly enjoyed their use of multimedia, from the indispensable photo galleries to some innovative ideas like a time wrap video.

Honorable mention goes to the Wall Street Journal for a surprising look at the wedding, for example this story about the woman who is last in line to the throne.

The first wedding of the social media age?

The much-anticipated social nature of the event was perhaps muted in the U.S. because of the time difference to Britain. An event that occurs while most people are still asleep won’t get as much live-tweeting.

Still, networks employed a variety of social media efforts, from hastag polls (#royalsuccess vs. #royalmess) to on-air promts to engage online. The reaction on social media sites was apparently bigger than that to the earthquake in Japan. It certainly dominated the chatteron the wedding day itself.

Links of the Day: Telling the story of Middle East revolutions

The popular uprisings across the Middle East pose many challenges to news organizations. Obviously, there’s the challenge of getting and verifying information when regimes are actively hindering journalists’ work. Luckily and incredibly, people across the Middle East are posting to Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, producing a flow of information that requires other decisions from journalists.

Besides that, there is the challenge of presentation: How can we keep readers who may not be familiar with the distinct features of each country or the geography of the region interested this ongoing story, while also telling multiple parallel developments at the same time? Here, online presentations offer an opportunity to bundle a wealth of information and tell it in a way that satisfies both the casual observer and the involved reader.

Mapping the youth

A map is an obvious choice for presentation. The Guardian has created an interactive map of a key component in unrest across the region: the high percentage of people under 30, and the high unemployment rate among them, often despite a good education. A key factor is the map’s simplicity: The team picked only two variables (age and unemployment rate) for each country. Links to country-specific articles give further information, again focused on those two areas.

arab youth map

The Guardian's map on young populations across North Africa and the Arab world.

The Guardian also created a map of Twitter updates from the region.

Following the developments

The New York Times produced a very thorough presentation. Their “country by country look” includes a summary, map, latest Tweets and links to recent Times coverage. While including all this information, the presentation is very clean and immediately leads a user to the information. I like the additional feature of local time shown on a clock – something unusual that offers another connection to the protests.

NYT Egypt overview

The Egypt section of the New York Times' overview page.

Now, both the New York Times and the Guardian are large organizations and have resources dedicated to interactive storytelling. How can smaller newsrooms solve this issue?

Take inspiration from Al Jazeera. While also a large organization and undoubtedly a leader in coverage of the uprisings, Al Jazeera has packaged its content in a way that smaller media could implement as well.

Al Jazeera country logos

Al Jazeera created graphic logos for each country covered, both a navigation and a storytelling tool.

For example, its “Region in Turmoil” page offers a map and short summaries of country-specific developments, with links to coverage of the individual uprisings. In terms of graphics and page building, that approach is easy to duplicate.

Another smart move: Creating logos for the individual revolutions (see picture). “Lybia Uprising” and “Eye on Algeria” are such picture logos. Those pictures serve as navigation tools, but headlines as well. Egypts, for example, was changed to “Egypt: The Revolution” after Mubarak was overthrown. The images used as background give the user additional information about the state of events in each country, all at just a quick glance.

What other noteworthy presentations of Middle Eastern coverage have you seen?

Update, 3/11: The Washington Post’s Cory Haik explains how the Post build their interactive map, and Mark Luckie collected additional country-by-country features for the Post’s new innovations tumblog.

Links of the Day: Two wonderful interactives

The UK government just finished its spending review, announcing steep budget cuts over the next years. In the Guardian infographic, you can set your own cuts and see how they compare to the proposed ones.

Comprehensive spending review: you make the cuts

A great feature on climate change comes from the Council on Foreign Relations. In its Global Governance Monitor, the Council presents a wealth of information on climate change and climate policy – from international bodies and agreements to how the science evolved over the last century.

Global Governance Monitor