New site: Here’s to the misfits

I’ve wanted to redesign the CU Independent website for quite a long time. It’s been close and then nearly there and snatched away again. So, I decided to change things.

With the help of managing editors Annie Melton and Alison Noon, we’ll be building the new CUI website this weekend.

My hope is that this blog can serve as a diary of turmoil and success throughout the process.

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Things I learned at ONA

In chronological order, a handful of the cool tips, tricks and advice I picked up at the Online News Association conference.

1) Cool mobile apps [AUDIO]

2) Data

  • Tips for data newbies on what to consider when looking for/working with data
  • First things first, figure out if data is even available, ie: call someone and ask
  • There is a TON of data out there, a small list from Chris Keller here.
  • You almost always want to get data in a CSV (comma separated value) format or an Excel file. Avoid PDFs at all costs.

3) Info graphics

  • No slideshow or webpage for this, but the tweets were pretty good.
  • Moral of the story was to look at your data and pick the best format for the data
  • Sometimes bar charts are the best way to visualize data
  • “If it doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t work”
  • Involve data viz people EARLY on when you’re working on a story

4) Sensors [AUDIO]

  • Major talking point: WNYC Cicada Tracker
  • Building, coding sensors is a step up from basic web development
  • Sensors journalists use are often inaccurate, compared to military-grade sensors, but much cheaper to produce and easier to crowdsource
  • Sensors can track many, many things (air quality, chemicals, pressure, wifi, cell phone signals [intensity not specific person], temperature, motion, etc.)
  • Still many ethical/legal questions around using sensors in public places

5) There are jobs in journalism…

  • …and people are hiring if you have the right skill set
  • Biggest buzzwords were “code” followed closely by “data” and “multimedia”
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Twitter as the good guy

When the PRISM scandal broke a few weeks ago a lot of tech companies were caught in bed with the NSA. But Twitter has come out of it looking like heros.

They were not one of the tech companies giving info to the NSA (at least not yet) and today I woke up to an email from Twitter with a nice little nugget buried at the bottom.

Apparently, Twitter respects Do Not Track requests and even has an option to turn off tailored Promoted Tweets.


Since when?

I’m not sure if this is old news or if Twitter is trying to ride the PRISM good will wave as far as it can. Either way I’m happy about it.

To change those things go to Twitter and click on settings wheel on the top right. Go down to Settings and uncheck the boxes below. Also make sure your browser’s settings have Do Not Track turned on.


Very few companies that I know of respect the Do Not Track request, but it’s a start.

To be fair, I would bet that Twitter is still collecting and selling A LOT of user data. Because that’s how they make money and I can’t blame them for that.

At least they’re trying to appear transparent.

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Further fun with minimal coding

Monday evening I attended the lighting of the Washington Monument. I thought some before and after shots were in order. I used the ClassyCompare jQuery library to fix up some images.

See my full story here

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 11.48.50 PM

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Not your average firework photos

Here are my eight selects from my D.C. fireworks take.

My goal was to come away with something that no one else had.

These were shot with a Canon T2i and 50 mm lens.

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Scripps blog: Ideas are making a comeback

Last Saturday I went to an SPJ camp where I listened to a speech from Megan Garber on the evolution of ideas. It was pretty good.

I wrote a blog for my internship about it here.

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Scripps Blog: News brands need to engage communities

On Monday, I wrote a blog post on why newspapers need too engage communities. I think it’s alright.

Give it a read here.

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