Backstori.es: A “Previously On” For News

Inspired by “Previously On…” recap sequences on TV shows, Backstori.es is a web-based tool that allows journalists to semi-automatically generate a background explainer video for any news story. In less than 5 minutes, users can generate a list of relevant previous stories (using the current story’s inline links and other structured data), select the headlines and images that matter most, arrange them in a sequence and customize transitions. Backstori.es then automatically creates a short, dynamic explainer video using the Stupeflix API. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Is San Francisco’s Hot Housing Market Literally On Fire?

This project is a collaboration between David Jimenez, Charles Kaioun, Celeste LeCompte, and Léa Steinacker.

In San Francisco, there is a growing concern about residential fires, which have displaced more than 100 residents from their homes since the beginning of the year. Have there been more big fires? If so, why? We turned to the data to answer the question.

FIRE-in-SFO-draft_3Read on for more background on our analysis.
Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Previously on ….

Entering reporting on an unfamiliar issue or conflict is hard — but engaging the audience in a story mid-telling is something that television writers have faced for years; could we borrow what they’ve learned to help get readers up to speed on news more easily? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Quiz: Do Minimum Wage Laws Work?

Last June, the Seattle City Council approved an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour. The wage increases will be phased in beginning in April of this year, with all businesses required to pay the new, higher wage by 2021.

The new law affects large businesses first, and an international franchise group says the roll-out plan is unfair. As the policy rolls into court this week, it’s fueled on ongoing national debate about how minimum wage laws impact both individuals and the economy.

Test your knowledge about the minimum wage!

I didn’t get as far with this assignment as I’d hoped, since I was teaching myself to use jQuery while making the quiz. This was a very silly idea, and I didn’t get nearly far enough to use any actual logic in the quiz — you can just get a score for now, and there are all other kinds of $&^% problems with it — but I’ll explain where I was headed after the jump.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Who Cares About Magazine Beach?

Magazine Beach

Magazine Beach covers 15 acres of open space squeezed between the Charles River and Memorial Drive in Cambridge, near the BU bridge. After a project to restore the historic Powder Magazine building at the site caught the community’s attention a few years ago, efforts have been underway to improve the public park as a whole.

Who cares about the Magazine Beach park process, and who has a say in what will happen as the development plans take shape over the next year? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Stories I Followed This Week

This week, I consumed radio, podcasts, a TV show, a movie, books, paper newspapers, some magazines, and lots of online media, including text, video, and other visual media. I also listen to Pandora almost continuously. But here’s a sampling of 10 stories I followed down the rabbit hole — what they were, how I got there, and what I read.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized