Media Mill News 2

** The MediaMill Newsletter #2
Welcome to the MediaMill newsletter. In this newsletter we look at data journalism, the start of tracking hyperlocals .There’s also a report on the open futures conference at the digital catapult and the usual collection of interesting links.

Hyperlocal+Data = Hyperlocal data journalism

Hyperlocal plays a big part of this project. Asking the question ‘how data can help develop hyperlocal content’ often leads to the answer ‘Data Journalism’. But the term data journalism can be problematic, not least for the journalism industry. Understanding what the terms means highlights some big differences and some common ground:
* Andy takes a look at the confusion in terms in this post from his blog: When is data journalism not data journalism? (
* Adrian Holovaty is one of the godfathers of data driven journalism. His (Python based) Django framework underpins many US data driven news projects. But its his Chicago crime map project, which later became everyblock, ( that has become benchmarks in data journalism and familiar practice. This post on the fundamental way news sites need to change ( set out his stall.
* There is a great round-up of reading at (

** Hyperlocals and how they use data
Getting an idea of what hyperlocal activity there is in the UK is not an easy task. The only resources of any note has been openlylocal’s database of hyperlocals, but the data in there is looking pretty tired and out of date. That’s not to say it isn’t useful. Some academics have been using it as a benchmark, tracking the attrition rate since 2012 ( . I’ve been looking at how hyperlocals have been using data (short answer, they haven’t) and as a result I’ve been building an improved database to track from. I’ll be scraping and analysing for the next month or so but based on my figures (which have a broader remit than Harte’s) a couple of factors to consider right now though:

  • of the hyperlocal sites still active 70% are on WordPress (60%) or Blogger (10%) (n=437), This might be useful to consider when thinking about widgets etc.
  • A large percentage that are considered no long active have moved or been superseded by social media offerings (twitter aggregation accounts in particular): I’m still collating figures on this but it’s worth considering ‘socially shareable data’ as a key functionality on any platform.

** Mapping data with Year 6 and more
Media mill is part of a broader process of data activity that we are researching in the Media Innovation studio. Last week we had 28 Year6 students from a local school visit the studio and map data.

In the afternoon the students started prototyping apps to help collect more data. The plan is to prototype these apps and get the students to test it.

You can read more on the media innovation blog (

** Small data workshops
We’ve also been working with local community groups and agencies to begin to unpick what can kickstart local data economies and release value. The findings are already proving useful in terms of understanding the perceptions of data (most people use data and information as interchangeable terms) and also how we facilitate the development of data aware communities.

** Interesting news and links
A round up of some of the things that have caught our eye recently:

Hyperlocal:The State of Hyperlocal Community News in the UK ( is a report from last year but the insight on what stops hyperlocal sites expanding is interesting: “Not enough freely-available data from local authorities”

Hyperlocal:The Carnegie Trust’s”The futures bright. The futures local” ( report treads similar ground but also offers an interesting insight on value. They make some claims about ‘economic’ value based on volunteer hours.

Data Journalism: are doing data ( . They’ve even managed to poach ex-guardian, now twitter data journalism expert Simon Rogers to help. This is a very interesting move given the bitesize storytelling they do.

Data, programming and resources: The Knight-Mozilla OpenNews ( project run an open source portal with software, tips and news about the use of open source and news projects ( . A great resource to dip into and loads of stuff up there at the moment that looks at election data and mashing that up with realtime and location stuff.

Open data: Francis Maude once said that Data is “the new raw material of the 21st century” but it was Clive Humby who got the killer quote of “data is the new oil”. ( But this article on Gigaom suggests that maybe all most people want is Gasoline .

Open data:Greater Manchester expands county-wide open data sharing project ( It’s older news but the idea of Code Fellows is a nice one here

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