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ProPublica's Guide To News App Tech 12

Posted by Soulskill
from the blending-technology-and-news dept.
dstates writes "ProPublica, the award winning public interest journalism group and frequently cited Slashdot source, has published an interesting guide to app technology for journalism and a set of data and style guides. Journalism presents unique challenges with potentially enormous but highly variable site traffic, the need to serve a wide variety of information, and most importantly, the need to quickly develop and vet interesting content, and ProPublica serves lots of data sets in addition to the news. They are also doing some cool stuff like using AI to generate specific narratives from tens of thousands of database entries illustrating how school districts and states often don't distribute educational opportunities to rich and poor kids equally. The ProPublica team focuses on some basic practical issues for building a team, rapidly and flexibly deploying technology and insuring that what they serve is correct. A great news app developer needs three key skills: the ability to do journalism, design acumen and the ability to write code quickly — and the last is the easiest to teach. To build a team they look to their own staff rather than competing with Google for CS grads. Most news organizations use either Ruby on Rails or Python/Django, but more important than which specific technology you choose is to just pick a server-side programming language and stick to it. Cloud hosting provides news organizations with incredible flexibility (like increasing your capacity ten-fold for a few days around the election and then scaling back the day after), but they're not as fast as real servers, and cloud costs can scale quickly relative to real servers. Maybe a news app is not the most massive 'big data' application out there, but where else can you find the challenge of millions of users checking in several times a day for the latest news, and all you need to do is sort out which of your many and conflicting sources are providing you with straight information? Oh, and if you screw up, it will be very public."
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ProPublica's Guide To News App Tech

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  • by MagicM (85041)

    WTF is this? I didn't come here to read!

    Can someone please write up a summary for this summary?

    • by malakai (136531)

      I'm pretty confused as well, and I read the whole thing.

      I think it might be a slash ad for some site we all are supposed to know ( never heard of propublica ) hiring new devs, or taking old ones that google doesn't want...

      honestly, i know I've only had a sip of coffee so far today, but this makes no sense to me.

      • Yeah, I've been noticing a decline in the writing skills of the /. editors as of late. Long rambling walls of text made up of disconnected segments, conclusions that don't follow from (or even directly contradict) the "facts" presented immediately before. Titles that leave you wondering how the hell they figured that captured the essence of, or is even remotely related to, the summary. But then again, the summary is usually just as factually wrong w.r.t. the original article as the title is w.r.t. the summa

        • by oneiros27 (46144)

          Yeah, I've been noticing a decline in the writing skills of the /. editors as of late

          Writing? It doesn't require writing ... it requires editing -- figuring out how to get the original submission into a form that people can easily consume so that they might be inclined to read the articles linked to and/or comment on it.

          If this is blog spam, from a group rated as a 'journalism group', I would've expected copy to start with, or at least for them to have done sufficient research to determine what the norms

    • Sure, and I'll even do it with an "imitation" of the method they are talking about.
      (Meanwhile you get to laugh at my fake pseudocode!)

      100 Rem School Report AutoGenerator
      110 A1$="The School District at " ; A2$="The ______ School " ; A3$ = "If you go to _____ School "
      120 B1$="Funding has seen " ; B2$="Funding has been"
      130 C1$="cuts " ; C2$="cut "
      140 R1$="raises " ; R2$="raised "
      200 d=0 ; rem unassigned decision flag
      210 Array School$(52,000,d)
      220 Load in School$ (All Schools,d) ; rem decision marker is still b

  • and insuring that what they serve is correct

    Like using insure where it should he ensure?

  • What the hell, Soulskill?! After reading the lengthy self-aggrandizing pitch, I hovered over the links, half-expecting them to offer me cheap Nikes o handbags:

    http://www.propublica.org/about/
    http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter= [slashdot.org] propublica
    http://www.propublica.org/nerds/item/our-news-app-tech
    http://www.propublica.org/nerds/item/propublicas-news-app-guides
    http://www.propublica.org/tools/
    http://www.propublica.org/nerds/item/how-to-edit-52000-stories-at-once
    http://rubyonrails.org/ [rubyonrails.org]
    https://www.djangoproject.co [djangoproject.com]

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