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Amanda Cox, on Doing DataViz Right

December 2, 2010 at 11:23 a.m.

In a good graphic, "something surprising pops out," Amanda Cox says. "The interesting things in this data reveal themselves by the structure you've chosen."

If you work with data and news, listen to what Cox says. Then go look at the work she does. Cox is a graphics editor at the New York Times and one of the best there is at turning complex datasets into understandable stories and usable tools.

A few key points:

  • "The annotation layer is the most important thing we do." Data needs context.
  • Context isn't just change over time. Think about scale, background ...

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Free like Freedom Fries

September 3, 2009 at 6:53 p.m.

Want to do your next multimedia project without emptying your wallet? Mark Luckie over at 10,000 Words has you covered: 8 Ways to save money on your next multimedia project.

Truth is, most of what a journalist needs to work online is free, and a lot (often the best) is open source: Visualizing data? Try Django or ManyEyes (depending on how you feel about code). Want photo galleries? Embed a Flickr slide show, or go nuts on Vuvox. Need a wiki on your site? Here's four options.

How much good, no-cost stuff is out there?

Everything on this ...

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CopyCamp

June 29, 2008 at 7:06 a.m.

First, people in the video:

Quick recap of Saturday. CopyCamp was awesome. No other word for it. Anytime a newspaper opens its doors and lets its readers say what could be done better, that's a good thing, and the Mercury News reporters and editors who came can't be thanked enough. I don't know if I could have after ending the week the way they did.

Much as the discussion was haunted by the latest round of job cuts, there was, I think, still a feeling of optimism, if not from within ...

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On getting out of the way

June 10, 2008 at 4:26 a.m.

My Saturday gig sent me to Tennyson High School this week where alumni celebrated the school's 50th anniversary. I was tasked with adding unspecified multimedia to an already-written print story. I went, grabbed photos, audio and nachos, and built a slide show that I'm in no way happy with.

Here's where I think I went wrong: I tried to tell a linear story, and I fell all over myself doing it.

First, Soundslides was the wrong tool. It was wrong because, for the most part, it is a tool for telling stories that go from beginning to ...

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Product, not Process

June 1, 2008 at 1:41 a.m.

Journalism, like so many crafts, is often about the process more than the product. A good story will show the trail of reporting and let the reader in on the oblique conventions of policy or public happenings.

Online, too, there is a need for engagement, for openness, not just by those we cover, but by us, the journalists.

But in many ways, the process of getting newspapers from ink on paper to text and multimedia online is getting bogged down by process, when more people really ought to be thinking about the product.

I spoke to a reporter yesterday who ...

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Making multimedia a habit

May 17, 2008 at 1:27 a.m.

I'm a freelancer.

In a given week, I write for at least three publications, both in print and online (plus this much-neglected blog). Because I'm pretty much at the bottom of each respective totem poll, I tend to get assignments that are, well, befitting that altitude.

I did this at my last newspaper, too, those unglamorous bits and pieces, but since I had a regular beat there, it wasn't all I did. I had stories that developed over time, that had new angles, and that weren't just things we covered every year.

So let's make ...

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Lessons from Everyblock

May 16, 2008 at 7:54 p.m.

Adrian Holovaty, founder of ChicagoCrime.org and Everyblock.com, spoke at O'Reilly Media's Where2.0 conference. Video of the entire event is at Blip.tv. Here's a breakdown of what Holovaty says we can learn from Everyblock:

1: Take advantage of existing data

Plenty of sites start out by asking for contributions. Everyblock doesn't. Its first mission is to make data that's already floating around the internet and locked in government file cabinets available and easy to access. Tips for getting data:
  • Be nice: People will help you out if you're polite. Duh.
  • Governments ...

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Live from the Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco

April 9, 2008 at 4:06 a.m.

I'll be posting live audio updates all day Wednesday. Click play on the widget above, or click here for the full play list. There's a feed, too.

Want to watch this somewhere else? Embed the above player on your own site by copying the code below.

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Costco in Korea: Americana in large portions

January 9, 2008 at 1:40 p.m.

The Costco in Seoul is like every other Costco on the planet. That's why I went there.

A few weeks ago, a friend back home (who shall remain nameless), expressed what I'll generously describe as shock that there is a Costco in Seoul. There are three.

And so, I was asked to reconnoiter said whole-sale food and merchandise outlet and send back video describing it. My good friend James was kind enough to host:

That was a tasty hot dog.

Production notes: I shot this on James' camera, an HP, which I didn't like. My Canon A530 ...

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The Tattoo

November 13, 2007 at 3:52 p.m.

Fithi Garza decided to tattoo his late brother's name in Chinese on his arm. He did it in a back room in Dalian's Nepalese Bar. There is, by my estimation, exactly one advantage to getting inked in the back of a Chinese laowai bar: the characters will probably be right.

Production notes: This was all done on my Canon point and shoot, as usual, and I'm pretty satisfied with the sound quality. Note to self: Get all primary interviews done before the subject's friends show up with beer. Editing went faster this time. I think I ...

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Seeing Dalian

October 4, 2007 at 11:09 a.m.

Four local photographers have work on display right now in Heping Guangchang. The exhibition, called "I love Dalian" (they didn't get to choose the name) runs until Oct. 15, after which two of them will move to their own show. Details aren't available for that one yet. Directions to the current show are at DalianDalian.com.

Seeing Dalian

All four studied photography in Dalian over the past year, three completing masters degrees from Bolton U./Dalian Medical University. Much of what they photograph is the same, or follows similar themes: beaches, migrant workers, strange food, blue skies. Yet they see ...

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How to play Gaelic Football in China

September 24, 2007 at 4:59 p.m.

The Irish (and those aspiring to be so) invaded Dalian this weekend. The city hosted the All China Gaelic Games, a round-robin tournament of Irish football. Teams from Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen came to compete.

Shanghai took the men's cup, with Dalian coming in second. Beijing won the women's division, beating Shanghai in the finals.

I spent Saturday squinting through my camera's view-finder getting video of the event, which I'll put up over the next few days. For those who've never heard of Gaelic football, let alone played it, I'm starting with an overview ...

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Will Work for Travel; Will Dream for Free

September 20, 2007 at 1:57 p.m.

Here's a tough job: Spend the next year traveling to every province in mainland China. Hang out with cool people. See everything you've ever wanted to see in this country. Blog about it.

David DeGeest and Lonnie B. Hodge (aka One Man Bandwidth) somehow landed this job. Theirs is the China Dream Blogue (like travelogue, get it?), and the project aims to raise money for two charities through ad revenue and help deserving people make good one their own best hopes. The pair stopped by Dalian last weekend, and I grabbed them for some barbecue and brought the ...

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From Madagascar: Searching for the whales of St. Marie

July 27, 2007 at 7:22 p.m.

Click for a slide showThe whales weren't there to give us a show.

Through July and August they migrate north to the warm waters in this unnamed strait between Madagascar and Ille St. Marie. They'd float up around our boat, maybe checking out the noisy craft intruding on their winter home, then exhale and drift back under the turquoise ocean.

That's how whale watching goes sometimes, even in the farthest place from anywhere.

The humpbacks come here to do more important things, like give birth and spend the southern hemisphere's cold months away from their usual home around Antarctica.

Our ...

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Another one rides the bus

July 9, 2007 at 2:55 a.m.

I spend a lot of time on buses in Dalian. Living on Heishijiao and studying downtown adds up to about two hours a day dealing with public transport. I've written about it before, so I thought I'd give my students a chance to explain the situation.

For my English majors' final project, I asked them to perform a short play explaining some part of their lives in Dalian. Most have been in the city for two years, unless they grew up there. Four groups used the bus as their lens. This is what they produced (with me filming ...

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