Hackday Insights: Q&A with Lauren Johnston and Kristen Lee, NY Daily News

23 Apr 2014

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Reuters recently partnered with the Global Editors Network to present the New York Times Hackdays. We asked the winning and highly commended teams to share their projects and insights with us.  In this first post Lauren Johnston and Kristen Lee from the NY Daily News team spoke to us about their winning project NewsQs and the future of digital storytelling.

Could you tell us about your Hackday team?

Our team consisted of: Lauren Johnston (Digital Editorial Director), Kristen Lee (Digital Integration Editor) and Cecilia Reyes (Daily News data intern). Kristen started her Daily News career as a political reporter. Lauren was managing editor of the website handling breaking news and homepage programming until about a year ago when she was asked to head up a new department focused on innovative storytelling, social media and general digital development.  Kristen came on as deputy. Cecilia came on board in fall 2013. This was Lauren and Kristen’s first hackathon and the first time Cecilia presented at a hackathon.

How was the Hackday experience different to your usual working day?

On the average day in our newsroom, we are thinking about dozens of projects at once and reacting to news. The hackday was a great opportunity to focus on one project and we were amazed that in two days we were able to go from concept to working prototype.

Tell us about your winning project?

NewsQs mimics the behavior of a live chat with an expert and is intended to offer readers a quick, fun and innovative way to navigate content on a website. Instead of a person on the other side of the chat window, we connected the Reuters elections API and invited users to ask the tool poll-related questions about which candidates were winning, which candidates were running in different areas and which issues were important to them. The answers were pulled from the Reuters database. We imagined this tool as a component of a media outlet’s broader election coverage including stories, maps, photos, etc. NewsQs offers customized, direct delivery of a particular data set.

What aspect were you particularly proud of?

NewsQs is flexible and can be used with many data sets. We feel we created something that offers an alternative to search or site navigation for content discovery. NewsQs offers the reader a conversational path to request and interact with information.

How does NewsQs meet the needs of today’s news audience?

It’s personalized and it gets to the point fast. We (and our readers) are accustomed to quick, direct exchanges. We text, gchat, FB chat, etc. all day – this mimics the experience of brief conversation with the site itself.

What does NewsQs offer a news publisher?

We are all trying to find new ways to engage the audience. NewsQs lets us talk to our readers in a novel way.

What were the key trends that emerged for you from the weekend?

The theme of the event was “news as a conversation.” The audience has been participating in our reporting and making the news process a dialogue since the development and rise of social media platforms, but the tools created at our hackday event were all seeking to invite the audience to participate in new ways. Customization, audience participation and deep analysis of social data will continue to play an increasingly important role in journalism.

How is your organisation adapting to meet these challenges/opportunities?

We created a program called DailyNewsU to offer regular training sessions in multimedia, data reporting, social media and new digital tools. We also have an in-house Innovation Lab, a program that brings startups into our newsroom to develop tools to meet media development needs.

How can these types of activities impact the newsroom?

Every newsroom should be devoting time and space to thinking about the types of projects we worked on in our hackday weekend. In that concentrated setting, each team created an exciting concept that might be worth developing in any newsroom.

What excites you about the future of digital storytelling?

It’s limitless. There is so much innovation and creativity in our field now. New products are changing the landscape and the way we interact each day.

Find out more about upcoming GEN Hackdays.

Find out more about Reuters US Elections Service.

How do digital journalists juggle the need for speed and accuracy?

17 Apr 2014

How do digital journalists and editors juggle the need for speed and the need for accurate reporting and verification? In this session, our panel discuss how journalists are using social media to verify breaking news and the way that this phenomenon has changed the industry.

The event was presented by the  Online News Association UK and hosted by Reuters News Agency on February 27th, 2014.

Panelists included:

Fergus Bell, Social Media and UGC Editor, Associated Press

Mark Jones, Global Communities Editor, Reuters News

Nathalie Malinarich, Acting Editor, Mobile, BBC News Online

Highlights of the event can be viewed above or the full panel discussion can be viewed here:

The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of digital journalists. Our mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. Members include news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, developers, technologists, photographers, educators, students and others who produce news for and support digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association Conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

Reuters tells the world’s stories like no one else. As the largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters provides coverage around the globe and across topics including business, financial, national, and international news. For over 160 years, Reuters has maintained its reputation for speed, accuracy, and impact while providing exclusives, incisive commentary and forward-looking analysis.

Reuters wins Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting

15 Apr 2014

A pregnant Rohingya Muslim woman grimaces while experiencing labour pains at a shelter near Sittwe

Roma Hattu, a Rohingya Muslim woman who is nine months pregnant and is displaced by violence, grimaces while experiencing labour pains on the bare floor of a former rubber factory now serving as her family’s shelter near Sittwe, Myanmar. April 28, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Reuters journalists Jason Szep, Andrew R.C. Marshall and team have won a Pulitzer Prize in the International Reporting category for their courageous series on the oppression of the Muslim Rohingya of Myanmar.

Awarding the prize to Reuters, the Pulitzer committee recognized the team for “their courageous reports on the violent persecution of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar that, in efforts to flee the country, often falls victim to predatory human-trafficking networks.” As a result of this work, more than 900 people were freed from brutal trafficking rings.

Stephen Adler, Editor-in-Chief, Reuters News said, “We are thrilled that Jason Szep, Andrew R.C. Marshall and team have been recognized by the Pulitzer Prize committee for their important work. For two years, Reuters reporters have tirelessly investigated terrible human-rights abuses in a forgotten corner of the Muslim world, bringing the international dimensions of the oppressed Rohingya of Myanmar to global attention. We are immensely proud that this high-impact series was selected as Reuters’ first-ever Pulitzer Prize win for text reporting.”

You can read the award winning reports here: http://www.reuters.com/special-reports/myanmar

In addition, a series by Reuters journalist Megan Twohey, which exposed the underground market for adopted children, was named a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category; her work won praise for “triggering governmental action to curb the practice” of exchanging unwanted kids online.

Eason sits in side her Tucson, Arizona home

Nicole Eason sits in side her Tucson, Arizona home May 7, 2013. Eason has taken in more than a half-dozen children, many from failed international adoptions, during the past decade. REUTERS/Samantha Sais

Reuters Photographer Goran Tomasevic was named a finalist in the Breaking News Photography catergory, with judges recognizing “his sequence of photographs that chronicle two hours of fierce combat on the rebel frontline in Syria’s civil war.”  Watch this video to hear Goran talk about his experience in Syria.

A Free Syrian Army fighter looks at his comrade as he gets shot by sniper fire during heavy fighting in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus

A Free Syrian Army fighter looks at his comrade as he is shot by sniper fire during heavy fighting in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria. January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Reuters Picture of the Day – 9 April 2014

09 Apr 2014

 Deputies clash during a session of the parliament in Kiev

Deputies clash during a session of the parliament in Kiev, April 8, 2014 REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Reuters Picture of Day – 8 April 2014

08 Apr 2014

Residents watch two elderly men play Chinese chess inside a sculpture at a zoo in Beijing

Residents watch two elderly men play Chinese chess inside a sculpture at a zoo in Beijing, China. April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Reuters Picture of the Day – 7 April 2014

07 Apr 2014

Photographs of people who were killed during the 1994 genocide are seen inside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum

Photographs of people who were killed during the 1994 genocide are seen inside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum as the country prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide in the Rwandan capital Kigali April 5, 2014. An estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days during the genocide. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

Reuters Picture of the Day – 4 April 2014

04 Apr 2014

An African migrant is lowered from a border fence by a Spanish Civil Guard at the border between Morocco and Melilla during the latest attempt to cross into Spanish territory

An African migrant is lowered down from a border fence by a Spanish Civil Guard as fellow migrants assist, at the border between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla during the latest attempt to cross into Spanish territory, April 3, 2014. Spain has more than doubled the strength of security forces at Melilla, after about 500 people stormed its fences in the biggest border rush for years earlier this month. Immigrants from all over Africa regularly dare the razor-wire fences of Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla, which are surrounded by Moroccan territory and sea. REUTERS/Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda

Reuters Picture of the Day – 3 April 2014

03 Apr 2014

U.S. President Obama makes a statement about the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas while in Chicago

U.S. President Barack Obama stands alone as he makes a statement about the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, while in Chicago, April 2, 2014. Obama said on Wednesday he was “heartbroken” that another shooting had occurred at the Fort Hood Army base and described the situation there as fluid. At least one gunman opened fire on Wednesday, injuring an unknown number of people at the U.S. Army base in central Texas that was the scene of a shooting rampage in 2009, officials said. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Reuters Picture of the Day – 2 April 2014

02 Apr 2014

TEPCO volunteers removed ice and snow and levelled dirt in a playground, as seen through a window at Miyakoji area in Tamura

Tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) volunteers removed ice and snow and levelled dirt in a playground, as seen through a window at a Miyakoji child care center at Miyakoji area in Tamura, Fukushima prefecture, April 1, 2014. People began their first homecomings in three years to a small area evacuated after the Fukushima disaster, but families are divided as worries about radiation and poor job prospects have kept many away. The reopening of the Miyakoji area of Tamura, a city 220 km (140 miles) northeast of Tokyo and inland from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear station, marks a tiny step for Japan as it attempts to recover from the 2011 disasters. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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