A Powerful Tool for Local Journalism: Contextualized News on a Map

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The newsmaking machinery of a newspaper is a lot more valuable than the newspaper itself. All the local data that exists within the newsroom and that is generated by reporting is way more valuable than the collection of stories that they produce each day. There is a yawning gap between the value that's on offer to purchase or read and the total value of the enterprise.

One reason is that the package of the newspaper, even online, is organized solely around time. All the stories appear in the same place because they all happened to be published on the same day. That's fine when you have to print something on paper. You have to make that decision for practical reasons. But it's not the system I'd design if I could start from scratch, assuming the Internet.

A new app, not quite released, clarifies what I'm talking about. It's called Tackable and it displays local news on a map, along with context from social media. Robert Scoble interviewed a founder earlier this month on Building43.

Take a look at the video below. My takeaway is that newspapers could continue do almost exactly what they're doing but unlock more value because of the context in which the news is presented and how it's linked to the outside world. And apps like Tackable might help them do it without building any of their own technology.

Via Tomaslov Savov

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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