My Blog Idea

After much debate on what to blog about I’ve decided I will partake in a challenge blog. So,what could really challenge me? Well i’m already a fitness freak and super scrimper so anything regarding excessive exercise or living off minimal amounts of money per week wouldn’t challenge me. I’m already a fashion and lifestyle blogger so wouldn’t want to do anything fashion or relationship related. But there is one basic skill that would surely challenge me….. cooking. I admit it, I can’t cook to save my life. I can bake, (I love baking cakes and all things nice!) but when it comes to cooking proper food dishes i’m not very good at all! Perhaps a key problem is that i’m lazy when it comes to cooking. If i’m tired even watching the soup bubble in the microwave proves as too time consuming.  Along with this, I don’t really ‘challenge my taste buds’. I stick to boring basic foods like beans, eggs, chicken, salads etc.

So my blog idea is to challenge myself to cook three different dishes for friends and blog about my experience. To make my blog more interesting I want to research the origins of recipes and will specifically pick foods from different cultures. I want to research the specific skills needed to make such dishes and research various ideas and advice found online when cooking challenging foods. With obesity in England currently on the rise, I want to encourage people (like myself) to start spending more time in the kitchen and less time in fast food restaurants.  We live in a society where ready meals are classed as sufficient family dinners when really they are filled with excessive amounts salts and sugars. I hope my blog will break people’s fear of getting in the kitchen and hopefully prove that if I can do it, almost anyone can!!

Now to decide on my three dishes…..

Live blogging

Live blogging has become increasingly popular with the new advances of online journalism. People can now follow up to date stories and receive new information as soon as its been released. With these new advances online, live blogging has now created another platform for live news, placing it alongside other media platforms, including radio and television.

Similar to microblogs, a liveblog is one single post which is constantly updated by one or more authors with up to the minute logs of new findings, and are usually used to report specific events rather than regular features. Live blogs can include a wide variety of media including text, image, video and audio which are used to explain the happenings in a specific location. Most live blogs are usually ordered from top to bottom so that the most recent updates are placed at the top of the post.

The Guardian has become especially popular for its live blogging stories. A recent one of which I found of interest was the article regarding the gay marriage bill. The article followed the debate giving regular updates of its progress and included prominent quotes from cabinet members.

Most live blogging articles will start with some background information including facts, quotes and figures to allow the reader to have more of an understanding of what is being shown.  Some live blogs will also present a timetable at the start of the article showing what they are going to release at specific times so readers do not have to wait for certain parts of information.

Although these blogs are claimed to be ‘live’, one should remember that writing a live blog will take a lot of preparation. A successful live blog will be well researched to make sure relevant information can be found and released at frequent times. Many quotes or pieces of writing will have already been prepared and will be slotted into the piece when the story unfolds. However some live blogs are completely spur of the moment so it will take a lot of skill to report quickly and accurately under a designated time limit.


A guide to data journalism

Data journalism has become increasingly popular over recent years. Its use of facts and figures presented in graphs and maps has created a quick concise way of presenting the news.

Some people argue data journalism is all about infographics however 80% of a data journalist’s work is actually research and analysis. Studying data journalism will develop your general knowledge as you are not restricted to researching simply one topic of the media.

People may believe that data journalism itself is a brand new phenomenon however it has been going on since the early establishment of journalism. Even the first ever edition of The Guardian contained several data journalism projects.  Yet the internet and new technologies have helped develop data journalism over recent years to see its rise in popularity and acknowledgment.  A fairly recent story that increased the awareness of data journalism was a report published by The Telegraph and then The Guardian to reveal the MP’s expenses.  This was certainly an eye opener and received lots of scrutiny!

Here are some data journalism websites worth visiting: datadrivenjournalism.net, Propublica.org, okfn.org

So you’re looking to create a data journalism project, where to start?

The best way to start with a data journalism project is by asking a question, then finding context that would be relevant to your story. For example, data on UK population would need you to look at interesting topics rather than just the basics. Perhaps you could look at contributing factors to the decrease or increase in the population at certain times. Make sure you create a certain angle in your project so data will be interesting and specific.

So you have your story, now to find the data. Fortunately various new websites have been created to make data research easier, a very useful site is onlinejournalismblog. Wikileaks and Cablesearch are also very useful. Wikileaks is publishing new data sets nearly almost every day so there will always be something new and interesting to find. Data.gov, crowdsourcing.org and data.gov.uk will see you on your to collecting reliable data sets.

Buzzdata is a great website for checking out data. If you’re doing an investigative piece it will enable you to communicate with other users on what you are searching for and also find users previous data sets.

Monitor the responses to freedom in information requests on whatdotheyknow.com

Another way to get data is through the social media and interactivity!

Extracting data can take time. If you found a table you wanted to use there is a formula to help you. On your own blank spreadsheet use the code =ImportHtml then in brackets add the html after the fomurala. After you have inserted the html to the code write “table”.0 and close your brackets. This will extract all the data into your own formulated spreadsheet.

After getting your data it is now time to ‘clean’ your data. This will mean making sure all dates and names etc. are fitted to the same format. A quick way to do this is google refine. This is a tool which looks through all your data noticing different trends/corruptions. It will take you on a step by step  guide making sure all your data sets follow the same suit.

When creating data journalism, spreadsheets will become your new best friend. Make sure you refresh your skills on excel/google spreadsheets, if you need some help doing this check out this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L1OVkw2ZQ8

After you have your spreadsheet filled with data, start to look for either similarities or anomalies in the data, this can be done by selecting a column using the descending or ascending tools. You should have already have decided on your angle of the article so use the tools on Excel to help you define the data you have retrieved and construct your material to show your desired patterns.

Then the rest is really up to you! Select a format in which you wish to present your data i.e pie chart, bar graph. Tools such as Many Eyes are very useful in visualising data. Then write a few sentences describing the meaning of data you have collected and get ready to publish!!!