HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Journalists shouldn’t lose their rights in their move to private platforms
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 7, 2009, 3:40 p.m.

NYT wedding announcements marry the semantic web

The weddings and celebrations section of The New York Times can sometimes read like a Mad Lib: insert Ivy League degree here, mother’s medical specialty there. Now, couples submitting their nuptials to the Times can do so with an online form that will truly automate the process. And while input fields and dialog boxes may kill some of the romance, the new system actually has intriguing potential for improving rote journalistic tasks.

In a memo to staffers today, Jonathan Landman (deputy managing editor for digital) and Denise Warren (general manager of the website) explained:

It’s an online form, part of a system-wide data universe project meant to turn random facts rendered in hard-to-manage text into well-organized data. Anybody who is registered on nytimes.com can use it. Type in the information and it’ll spit out a wedding announcement. Because the data entered on the form is structured for computers, organizing, fact-checking and managing photos becomes much more efficient.

I’ll follow-up to see if there’s more to say about the project, but it seems in line with other semantic-web efforts across the industry that seek to automate reporting and create structure out of unwieldy data. Thomson Reuters, for instance, relies on software to extract key figures from SEC filings for nearly instantaneous reports on, say, a company’s quarterly earnings.

Conspiracy theorists might suggest that the Times’ new form will make it easier for the paper to favor well-bred and highly accomplished couples on its oft-discussed and occasionally maligned weddings pages. (Clark Hoyt, the public editor, recently reported that “almost a quarter” of newlyweds in the Times are the children of educators.) Others will lament the demystifying sample announcement that’s included with the form:

(first celebrator’s name here) and (second celebrator’s name here) are to be (married/committed) (date here) by the (officiant’s name here) at the (name of venue here) in (city and state name here).

(first celebrator), 33, is a (job title/I.D. here) in (location here) for (company/organization name here). (he/she) graduated from (college name here) and received a master’s degree in (degree name/subject/university here).

For a less cookie-cutter feel, there’s always the Vows column.

POSTED     Aug. 7, 2009, 3:40 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Journalists shouldn’t lose their rights in their move to private platforms
The shift to distributed content means concepts like fair use are increasingly in the hands of private companies — like SoundCloud.
How The Forward, 118 years old, is remaking itself as the American Jewish community changes
The newspaper, first published in Yiddish, is facing all the familiar pressures of print, combined with a shifting base of potential readers.
Newsonomics: Are local newspapers the taxi cabs of the Uber age?
Local newspapers still act as if they’re monopolies — despite all the new players eating away at their audiences’ attention. Is there room to adapt?
What to read next
2401
tweets
The Economist’s Tom Standage on digital strategy and the limits of a model based on advertising
“The Economist has taken the view that advertising is nice, and we’ll certainly take money where we can get it, but we’re pretty much expecting it to go away.”
889A wave of distributed content is coming — will publishers sink or swim?
Instead of just publishing to their own websites, news organizations are being asked to publish directly to platforms they don’t control. Is the hunt for readers enough to justify losing some independence?
550What USA Today Sports learned covering the Final Four on Periscope and Snapchat
These new platforms are optimized for realtime news on phones, but there are lots of questions for news organizations — from what content to share to how to measure their effectiveness.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
McClatchy
Mashable
Medium
The New York Times
Futurity
Davis Wiki
FiveThirtyEight
Sports Illustrated
AOL
Twitter
Poynter Institute
MediaBugs