Orangutans Smoked Out!

The Aceh region of is under an environmental siege. A powerful 8.6 magnitude off the coast of Aceh today triggered another tsunami watch, and wildfires are raging in the peat forests of that region, endangering habitats of the densest Sumatran orangutan populations. The fires were started, with government permission, but PT Kallister Alam, a palm oil company. Palm oil companies in the area are replacing peat forest with palm plantations. My storyful page curates related articles. [login required]

Apologies in advance for the messy curation; it’s that time of the semester.


For the Data Journalism assignment, I put my search for Luckiest Town in Massachusetts on hold and trained my sights on a more interesting story:

For weeks, the only Trayvon Martin coverage I saw was on Twitter, where every progressive I knew had shared a link to the Change.org petition. Eventually, I saw more media attention around the story. This led me to form a hypothesis that people talking about the story online, and specifically, linking to the Change.org petition, kept the story alive long enough for the national media to pick up on it.

I looked into all of the data I could find, including some provided by Change.org, and found out that my hypothesis was incorrect. But the story of how Trayvon Martin became national news, weeks after his death, is still a revealing portrait of our media.

Five Tech Ideas for Explanatory Journalism

How can technology help journalists make sense of complex issues and explain them to the public in a clear, understandable manner?

Last year, Jay Rosen’s journalism students spent an entire semester researching and making explanations in partnership with ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom which focuses on investigative journalism. The class did amazing work to highlight notable examples and develop their own explainers.

I kept my eyes open for parts of the process which technology could improve. Here are my top tech recommendations for supporting beter explainers.

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