Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Inside, the collection of industry newsletters, continues to bet on email, the “largest social network”
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 13, 2014, 1:16 p.m.
LINK: blog.pastpages.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   November 13, 2014

Hopefully you know about PastPages, the tool built by L.A. Times data journalist Ben Welsh to record what some of the web’s most important news sites have on their homepage — hour by hour, every single day. Want to see what The Guardian’s homepage looked like Tuesday night? Here you go. Want to see how that Ebola patient first appeared on DallasNews.com in September? Try the small item here. It’s a valuable service, particularly for future researchers who will want to study how stories moved through new media. (For print media, we have physical archives; for digital news, work even a few years old has an alarming tendency to disappear.)

Anyway, Ben is back with a new tool called StoryTracker, “a set of open source tools for archiving and analyzing news homepages,” backed in part by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at Mizzou.

It offers a menu of options, documented here, for creating an orderly archive of HTML snapshots, extracting hyperlinks with a bonus set of metadata that captures each link’s prominence on the page and visualizing a page’s layout with animations that show changes over time.

The potential uses for researchers are obvious, but I could also imagine plenty of realtime uses. Tracking your own homepage over time, you could get good data on how the granular movement of stories there correlates with traffic over time. (To ask questions like: Is the top slot more or less valuable on weekends or overnight than during the day Monday to Friday?) You could track your competition’s homepages to get hard data on what stories they’re pushing hardest. And unlike the base PastPages, which saves screenshots of homepages, StoryTracker gets at the HTML to determine what stories are where. It’s all open source, so have at it. (Here’s a sample analysis to see what sources the Drudge Report links to most.)

Ben presented StoryTracker at a conference at RJI earlier this week; here’s the video and his slide deck.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Inside, the collection of industry newsletters, continues to bet on email, the “largest social network”
Closing in on a year, the company founded by serial entrepreneur and investor Jason Calcanis now has around 300,000 subscribers across 30 newsletters, and average open rates just above 40 percent.
With Facebook Watch, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hopes to attract more viewers to local videos
“Watch is appealing because it’s not just about getting as many of those singular people watching, but also developing a community of people intrigued by the content who want to watch together.”
New York City makes the claim that it’s the podcast capital of the world (but is that a good thing?)
Plus: Another daily news podcast — this time from Vox and Midroll, Radiolab controversy, and are there too many celebrity podcasts?