Tag Archives: tools

Case Study 10: Wordle

18 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Wordle is an excellent tool. It is probably my favorite, so far. I love the idea of putting in a passage or piece of writing and having this system show you the most mentioned words in the piece of writing in such a visual way. The most common words are often larger, repeated and sometimes bold. This tool summarizes a piece of writing in the way a graph summarizes data. It makes themes easily understood in a  visual way. It can help highlight themes and underlying messages that may not be obvious when you first read or glance at the piece.

I used Wordle to examine President Barak Obama’s State of the Union Addresses from 2010, 2011 and 2012.


Common themes and words in the 2010 State of the Union Address were: Now, economy, business, people, American, jobs, work and government. This was his first time addressing the nation as president unless you count his speech in 2009.



Common themes and words in his speech in his second year were: New, people, years, work, American, world, country, future and spending.


His common themes and words in 2012 were: Right, time, Americans, jobs, one, people, economy, energy, tax and congress.

By looking at these three speeches, we can see that his addresses to the nation have had a consistent theme. He has focused on addressing the American people about the future, the economy, jobs and spending. Becoming bigger each year was the mention of energy and jobs.

Tools like Wordle can help journalists spot changes in focus, emphasis and importance in certain aspects and areas by looking at the words used. The tool is also neat because you can choose colors, fonts and different ways to present your Wordle cloud.

This is something you could easily spend a lot of time playing around with and more importantly, analyzing.

Tools that help us find what to write about

15 Feb

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Whether you are assigned to a beat, or you are a general reporter, finding story ideas can be complicated. At times, things that seem genius to you are lame to your editor. One of the two sides might not see the issue or the trend that fascinates the other.

Before social media and other technological advancements, journalists would use the simple techniques of speaking with people in person, searching bulletin boards and collecting flier announcements. We still resort to these techniques, but recently we have been given resources that allow us to be more lethargic as far as our movement is concerned. Today, there are easier and faster ways to find trends or story ideas that don’t involve driving around or looking strange at bulletin boards.

One idea is to look at information, statistics and numbers related to the area you are covering. You can find data online in archives and documents. A figure that doesn’t match or a dramatic change over time can be an indicator of something newsworthy. You can use the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, the Bureau of Labor and utility companies, said Al Tompkins, of the Poynter Institute. Checking people’s math, if it turns out to be faulty, can also reveal a news story.

The internet facilitates our search for stories. There are great tools that can spark ideas like: Google Trends, Google Alerts and the Google search engine while we are at it. These tools can help you monitor blogs and all other news outlets, allowing you to pick up on something that others may not know about.

Reddit is also a tool that is being used more frequently by journalists.

Reddit can also help journalists find sources by using the “Ask Me Anything” session, Ethan Klapper said.

David Cohn recommends the social bookmarking site Digg.com. This website allows users to rate the best articles of the day. In these articles, reporters can get story ideas from other stories which may have other potential leads or angles in them.

Mark Glaser, of MediaShift, said things are changing. There are things journalists did before, but now they do things differently with technology. He also mentions the way things will be in the future. Social technology will play a huge role in not only how reporters contact sources, but also how they obtain story ideas.

Tom Regan said, “Technology is quickly eliminating the usual reasons reporters find to avoid creating extra material for their new media partners.”

“Technology is changing journalism,” Regan said, “just as it always has.”

Despite journalism’s fast evolution, which is happening before our eyes before we can blink, he said people hate change and journalists hate it more than most others because they are so skeptical by nature. They embrace change with caution.

Technology is changing the way we do things in that somethings will be easier to obtain, therefore, more content will be expected. Expectations will rise as facility in newsgathering increases.

It just goes to show that there is much truth to the phrase, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Budget lines by: Gabriela Gonzalez

1. Child slavery and labor

This story would be about what the local community is doing about the child labor and other fair trade issues that affect child labor and human trafficking worldwide. Our consumption of certain products prolongs others’ suffering and enslavement.

My audience would be both the local and national community. The purpose would be to create awareness, and if no action is being taken, to effect change.

Sources I would want to contact would be: someone from the CNN Freedom Project, which has been breaking the news and reporting on the child slavery happening on the Ivory Coast; Cindy Laughren, president of the Human Rights Council of North Florida; someone from the Amnesty International chapter at UF and from Invisible Children. I would speak to leaders in the community who work and support migrant workers like the members of CHISPAS at UF and Harvest of Hope.

I would also want to consult records of field raids that have occurred in Alachua County and records of mistreatment of migrant worker children locally in the county and at the state level. Another source I would like to contact is the producer and those who played a role in filming the documentary “The Harvest,” about migrant workers who pick our food in the U.S. I would also contact the state governor and senators. I would also want to include background on farm worker struggle, including Cesar Chavez’s movement. I would also use U.S. Department of Labor’s documents and quotes that show that agriculture is one of the most dangerous things a child could be involved in because of the chemicals and pesticides.

Ways to illustrate this story would be to take photos of the migrant children, with the parental permission, who work in Alachua County farms. Also, something that could impact the reader and be used in an online format would be a video interview with the children. It would also be helpful to include a list or chart of places that have child labor problems in a ranking.

2. Cards

Electronic cards were a trending topic this week because of Valentine’s Day.

I think it would be interesting to study to what degree greeting card sales have been in decline ever since the electronic card emerged. People are sending more E-Cards, and I would like to explore whether this is having an effect on our culture and relationships.

My audience would be general. To anyone who celebrates a holiday or is in a relationship, I suppose.

The story was covered generally in 2011 around Christmas time, but I would want to focus on Valentine’s Day. My sources would include the National Greeting Card Association, a sales representative from Hallmark and American Greetings and a representative from 123greetings.com. I would also want to get anecdotes from people. I would want to find a survey from a random sample relating to how they communicate with loved ones. This story would be a small piece in a bigger picture on how love and affection are becoming more digitalized. It would not only focus on the decline of greetings cards but also of mail in general, which could tie into the financial strains being suffred by the U.S. Postal Service.

Looking at the trend with greeting cards and mail can open the door to further explore length and depth of relationships and dating trends. The change in relationships through technology could be further explored with commentary from psychologists and sociologists.

To illustrate this story it would be great to have a graph showing the decline of greeting cards. Also, a chart with the decline of mail perhaps in certain countries compared to other countries that have reduced internet access and resources. It would also be neat to have a sidebar listing the ways social media and other technology such as phones are used in romantic relationships today. A before and after contrast would help simplify for the reader the enormous changes society has undergone.