Attention Plotter is a d3.js-based tool for graphing and comparing volumes of content from multiple media sources and word frequencies within that content over a range of dates. It’s now part of the Controversy Mapper project at the MIT Center for Civic Media. And it’s available on GitHub: https://github.com/erhardt/Attention-Plotter.Continue reading
While browsing and studying maps for our final project, Catherine and I started compiling a mapping handbook for journalists. It’s far from complete, but we wanted to share an initial blog post and ask for your thoughts and feedback. Rather than focus on technical details (many of which are already covered in other blogs or places like the Data Journalism Handbook), we focused on questions a journalist might ask before making a map in the first place.
We’d love to hear your feedback, additional examples or questions.
For our final project, Luisa and I created a critical geography of the news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings in comparison with other crises that happened that week. We put our main blog post writing up our findings on the Center for Civic Media’s blog. We created a poster and an online tool where you can explore the maps and data related to this research.
If you want to try our prototype, flash the code with your device and add the “web app” to Home screen. Again, it’s a prototype.
Or you can also use the following link:
For my final project, I investigated how to use Facebook Graph Search as a journalistic tool. I used Graph Search to write According to Graph Search: 36 Hours in Portland, Oregon and I write about my experiences on my blog here.
Folks, I’ve been collecting the best writing I can find on the media and the Boston Marathon bombing. I rolled up everything on a Readlist, which you can download as a single ebook.
This is a work-in-progress, so please let me know what I’ve missed. If you have a bunch of links to add, let me know and I’ll give you a link to edit.
By Rochelle Sharpe, Adrienne Debigare, and David Larochelle
With the investigation into the Boston marathon bombings now an international inquiry, we want to explore how different countries are covering this continuing story.
We want to compare how the U.S. and Russian media are covering the investigation, examining newspaper and blog posts on the FBI’s handling of Russian intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We will use Media Cloud as a base to explore coverage, perhaps designing user friendly graphics to make Media Cloud information more user friendly.
Alternatively, we may look at ways to use machine learning to help analyze bombing coverage. For instance, we might be able to use machine learning to group articles by topics or look at patterns of tweets.
One major problem is that Media Cloud’s Russian coverage is in Russian. So, we have found a student to help us do some translation.
In Kenya, fertilizer is available to small farmers from the government at subsidized prices. For example, 50kg of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) is available at Sh2,500 ( around $25US ) subsidized. If purchased from private traders, it would cost between Sh3,500 ( $35US) and Sh3,700 ($37US). However, these subsidies are only available if the fertilizer is purchased from the National Cereals and Produce Board(NCPB) a Kenyan government run company. The fertilizer was only available at certain NCPB locations forcing farmers to travel significant distances and stand in long lines. Kenya’s government only allows small farmers to purchase subsidized fertilizer and the lines were likely exacerbated by the need to produce paperwork.
The traditional arguments for fertilizer subsidies in Africa are that fertilizer use there lags behind other regions such as Latin America and South Asia. The reasons cited are lack of knowledge of fertilizer use, farmer’s lack of capital to buy fertilizer, and farmer’s unwillingness to take risks. Furthermore fertilizer has positive externalities such as reduced soil erosion from increased plant growth.*
In most of Africa, fertilizer subsidies began in the 1960s and 1970s. These programs were typically implemented through government owned corporations that were given a monopoly on fertilizer and sold it at below market prices. Aid agencies and Western governments were often critical of the practice and in the 1980’s they began pressuring African governments. They maintained that fertilizer subsidy programs were inefficient and discouraged private sector businesses. The real problem facing African countries, they argued, was inefficient resource allocation. During this period many African countries got rid of their fertilizer subsidies due to Western pressure.*
However, more recent thinking on food subsidies has changed. Malawi, after following international recommendations to eliminate fertilizer subsidies, faced widespread food shortages in 2005 after a disastrous harvest. Determined not to repeat this, its government began instituting fertilizer subsidies and has enjoyed record harvests.* Pointing to Malawi’s success, some Western economists such as Jeffrey Sachs now advocate fertilizer subsidies in Africa. In a notable difference from the Kenyan approach, the Malawi government issues farmers coupons that can be used to purchase fertilizer from private merchants at the subsidized prices rather than selling the fertilizer directly. However, Malawi’s policy is expensive — running as high as 16% of GDP in 2008.
Even these Western countries that have pushed Africa to embrace laissez-faire economics and eliminate fertilizer subsidies, extensively subsidize their own agriculture. So, African government that subsidize fertilizer are following the policies that the West practices rather than what it preaches.
by Luisa Emmi Beck and David Larochlle