News Mixer

Dec 11 2008 Published by Ryan under Projects

We presented News Mixer this week to Medill Facult, friends and to our partner, The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. People loved it. The internets were all a twitter about our project.

News Mixer is your home for connection and interaction around news in Eastern Iowa. News Mixer adds a new dimension to your relationships with your Facebook friends by taking advantage of a new service called Facebook Connect. We hope News Mixer will helps you build new connections with other people interested in talking about Eastern Iowa news.

This first version of News Mixer is a demonstration site for you to test and explore. Take a look around! We would love your feedback.

I’ll be posting more about the project when I get the time to write. In the meantime – checkout our code.

We got some write-ups:

Medill’s News Mixer remixes story comments – Patrick Beeson said it “could be a game-changing effort for news story comments,” and Richard Kendall, an editor for

Newsmix opens the door to engagement – Richard K called Newsmixer “Very impressive”

A good day for new media in Illinois – Classmate Erin Halasz wrote about our project

Comments Off

enviroVOTE is a sucess! UPDATE

Nov 05 2008 Published by Ryan under Projects

My fellow hacker j-school classmate Brian Boyer and I spent our weekend putting together a web site called enviroVOTE. It tracked the election results and showed the envirominty-ness of the elected candidates. We lined-up candidates with endorsements each received from environmental interest groups and used a meter to show how the environment was faring in the election.

Lifted from my story on the News 21 project website:

How might this election change our country’s policy on the environment? At, we show you the potential impact of this election by reporting how people are voting for candidates endorsed by environmental groups.

The centerpiece of the Web site is a large meter that fills up based on the number of newly elected candidates with environmental credentials. We are also comparing this year’s election with previous elections to see if the new crop of law-makers are greener then the last. Think environmintier officials to freshen the breath of the country.

Drill down through the site and find the meters for the results in specific states. Look at individual races to see what endorsements the candidates received and find out more about each candidate.

The night went well, we ran into some technical issues throughout the evening, but no show stoppers. Brian did a great job of promoting the hell out of the site. Here is some of the coverage:

Brian also setup a twitter page. At the last minute, he wired up envirovote to automatically twitter as we updated election results in the system. Very cool.

We had a lot of help from Medill grad students Alexander Reed and Julia Dilday, without whom entering all the election results would not have been possible.


Another post about enviroVOTE:

AcClimate: How “enviro” were Tuesday’s votes?

One response so far

Chicago Sun-Times publishes database of names and salaries

Aug 05 2008 Published by Ryan under Uncategorized

The Sun-Times published the names, salaries and positions of 145,000 Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago employees on their website this weekend. The names and salaries are online in the form of a simple searchable database. The reporter published a couple articles with analysis of the massive database. One article talked about the top ten earners and another took a look at the Chicago police commissioner, who is the top earner.

A classmate of mine told me about it. Why did they just publish it all, she asked. Most of these people are just honest employees. She looked up the name of her friend who works for the government and found out how much he makes, which is what the majority of folks will do with it.

I think could be an interesting open-source approach to journalism – make a FOIA and release all the data to the public (as long as there are no privacy implications, which there might be in this case). But the Sun-Times didn’t really release the source to their product. You have limited access.

I want a link to download a csv file. I want to plug it into Many Eyes. I want to run my own reports on it.

I don’t know if they published the information with the intention that others should use it to find stories. But that would be cool.

2 responses so far

Tribune redesign, newspaper salvation, in the works

Jul 22 2008 Published by Ryan under Uncategorized

Looks like the new Tribune editor, Gerould Kern, is working on “saving” the newspaper. The reported redesign takes the news off the front page and buries it in the second section. Whats more important for the front page of a newspaper?

“Consumer-oriented and entertainment features.”

According to the article at Crain’s, Kern said the redesign is still a work in progress, but the Tribune Co. COO Randy Michaels has ordered some kind of redesign. I think the money quote from Kern is thus:

“The newspaper business is in crisis. I want to do everything in my power to save it.”

Sure it would be great to go back to the golden days of year over year growth, but the Internet has changed everything. The editor of the Chicago Tribune should be focused on saving the newsroom: the reporters, quality and values. Not an obsolete distribution mechanism.

I’m at a meeting of the Knight Foundation grantees in Chicago, today. We just finished lunch and heard the CEO and President of the foundation, Alberto Ibargüen, talk about how Knight has changed its focus from promoting best practices in journalism to figuring out what those practices are now. While talking about their focus on local and community news, Ibargüen said that they aren’t trying to “save the newspapers,” they’re trying to “save the values” of journalism.

Out the window was a reflection the Tribune Tower.

I wonder when those condos go on sale.

Comments Off