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Day one highlights, one reporter's perspective

Patrick Sweet, a CAR reporter at the The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and formerly at The Citizens' Voice, shared some of his favorit sessions from the conference on his blog. Here are his thoughts on NewsCamp: Investigating text in the wild and Locating the story: The latest in mapping as well as other panels. His thoughts:

NewsCamp: Investigating text in the wild

 I was super excited for this panel. Picture having to analyze hundreds of government documents. And, we’re not talking about a tab-delimited table; just raw text.

Sarah Cohen from Duke University walked through some fantastic examples of how newsrooms/companies are using new technologies to analyze raw texts and some of the limitations out there, such as accurate sentiment analysis (sarcasm is hard for a computer to recognize).

I could see us potentially doing similar raw text analysis of calendars for state legislators in Delaware. It would be cool (depending on the thoroughness of the calendar) to be able to tell which lobbyists/deal-makers were meeting most with particular legislators, especially if the dates correspond with big votes...

Locating the story: The latest in mapping

One of my former professors, David Herzog, lead this panel with Ben Welsh of the LA Times. I was already pretty familiar with most of the technical aspects (spatial joins, etc), but the mapping examples were pretty inspiring. Some of the story ideas that came out of the session were:

  • Acquiring and mapping health department records on respiratory/asthma issues to see which neighborhoods produce more problems.
  • Foreclosures. One of the featured maps was fascinating because it showed that banks were foreclosing one home and buying the neighbor’s tax lein. With Wilmington being such a big banking/credit card city, there could be a lot of potential in this data.
  • Racial Disparity. Stories such as, which neighborhoods have their potholes filled first and what are the demographics like.

Welsh also touched on an issue The News Journal might be facing soon: Google now charging for its mapping service. I’m going to have to study this a bit more. We might be switching to one of ESRI’s base-maps for our projections.

Read his full entry.

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