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In the Thick of It with #TSATime

December 1, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.


Lessons from Covering the Gulf Oil Leak

July 7, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.

Cross posted at MediaShift

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has lasted more than two months now. It is the worst spill in US history, and it is likely to continue until at least August. And in covering it, the NewsHour has broken every traffic record it ever had.

So, what have we learned here?

(Quick note: A lot of the thinking behind this post comes from a debriefing at work with my colleagues Vanessa Dennis, Travis Daub and Katie Kleinman, and from conversations about the spill and our coverage with other people in and out of the ...


Oil in the Gulf

May 24, 2010 at 11:12 a.m.

By now, I'm pretty sure anyone who reads this blog has seen the widget the PBS NewsHour launched a few weeks ago. Those ticking numbers have been embedded on dozens of websites, bringing thousands of new visitors our site.

So it's probably worth mentioning up front that at first, I thought building this thing was a bad idea. I thought it was gimmicky, and that it assigned specificity where there was none. I argued that any number we pick as the rate of spillage was almost guaranteed to be wrong, since the government, BP and outside experts were ...


JavaScript Recipe: Adding Paragraph-level Permalinks

February 12, 2010 at 5:24 p.m.

Paragraph-level permalinks are hot, right? Let's do this in JavaScript, just for fun.

Remember from my last post that all you need is a block of HTML and something to parse it with? This is pretty much what JavaScript was made to do.

var entry = document.getElementById('entry-text');
var paras = entry.getElementsByTagName('p')

Assuming you have a div with id="entry-text", we've just grabbed every paragraph below it and created an array called paras. Simple enough.

Now, like we did with Python and Beautiful Soup, we're just going to loop through that list of paragraph elements, add ...


Python Recipe: Adding Paragraph-Level Permalinks

February 11, 2010 at 9:06 p.m.

I mentioned in my last post how useful Ben Welsh's code recipe's are. Count this post as my effort to encourage the practice among coding journalists.

Since launching the NewsHour's Annotated State of the Union, I've gotten a few questions about how it worked, particularly about linking comments to paragraphs. What's needed is paragraph-level permalinks. As it turns out, that's pretty easy to do.

The first thing you'll need is a block of clean HTML. Then, you'll need something that can parse and modify that HTML. Fortunately, tools abound.

Doing it server ...


Mapmaking Update: ZeeMaps allows Google CSVs

August 3, 2009 at 5:30 p.m.

My post last week on simple ways for journalists to make maps seems to have done some good.

Pankaj K Garg, of ZeeMaps left a comment noting that after reading my post, he decided to add a long-desired feature to the application: direct CSV import from Google Docs:

Now, you can select Additions -> Upload CSV file and just click on "Use Google Spreadsheet" to upload your data from a Google Spreadsheet.

The requirements are: (1) the spreadsheet must be named ZeeMap-map-number, where map-number is the number for your map, and (2) you must allow zeemaps at gmail dot com view ...


How to make a map

July 25, 2009 at 2:57 p.m.

Note: I wrote this up to help out a few colleagues a few months ago, and I thought it might be useful to more people. It's aimed at regular, non-programmer journalists who may at some point need to throw a quick map alongside a story (or by itself, that's cool, too). Obviously, this is in no way comprehensive.

Also, this is a snapshot version of a document being maintained in Google Docs. Check here for the latest.

In all cases, start with a spreadsheet (preferably using Google Docs ). This will ultimately make your life easier, even if you ...