Charting a Course for News

November 7, 2009

I’m a serious consumer of news. I read, listen and watch a lot of it. Sometimes though I get caught in the trap of only reading stories that I find interesting. Certain major topics do not interest me enough to follow up and read about them as much as I probably should. I still don’t really know what Rihanna said about Chris Brown, so sometimes I need something that will force certain items to my attention.

One website that I’ve found that can do that is Newsmap. Newsmap is a colored-coded grid of stories that uses Google News to prioritize the most significant stories of the news day. Stories that have had more written about them are relatively bigger in the grid and have their headline in a larger font. Clicking on any of the stories will bring up the story where you can read more about it.

It defaults to having all categories of news, but if you want to limit it to just certain sections like health or technology, you can just click the appropriate check boxes and the grid will reorganize itself. It’s a nice little way to visualize the news.

At the 10000 Words blog, they have a great list of other news visualizers if you are interested in looking at news in a different way. There is the popular Newser tiled headlines with pictures, but this type of layout tends to make me focus on the interesting pictures instead  of finding good stories.

Another interesting visualization is 10×10, which offers a 10×10 grid of story pictures taken from Reuters, the BBC and the New York Times RSS feeds. It is very focused on international stories, but the way that it works is worth noting. It analyzes the words from the RSS feeds of these stories and computes the most important words of a particular hour. Then it will associate a picture with each word. Often times, the result will be that the same picture will come up multiple times, which lets you know that a story is worth looking at more closely. I would prefer if looked at a larger amount of time than an hour, because you will often get stories with no picture or only a very few stories and lots of repeated pictures.

How do you find news content? Have any interesting tips? Let me know in the comments.