Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Democrats see most news outlets as unbiased. Republicans think they’re almost all biased.
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.
Democrats see most news outlets as unbiased. Republicans think they’re almost all biased.
Plus: Facebook expands its fact-checking program; for one thing, it now covers photos and video.
The Appeal focuses on an often undercovered aspect of criminal justice: local prosecutors
The site, recently rebranded from In Justice Today, wants to shine a light on a more mysterious part of the legal system by focusing on local prosecutors and criminal justice policy.
These are the three types of bias that explain all the fake news, pseudoscience, and other junk in your News Feed
Indiana University researchers “have found that steep competition for users’ limited attention means that some ideas go viral despite their low quality — even when people prefer to share high-quality content.”