APIs and media, an increasingly closer relationship
Newsrooms around the world have launched and adopted APIs in different ways, leveraging their great possibilities to the distribution and creation of news. In this article, we analyze some notable case studies.
The most common is, without a doubt, RSS: the standard of syndication. RSS has allowed newsrooms around the world to capture content from external sources and distribute it to readers. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is an XML standard to create tools that automatically share content updates with a common pattern.
Although customers' use of RSS has declined in recent years in favor of social media, RSS remains at the core of many tools. Podcasting, for example, continues to rely on RSS to distribute new episodes, and behind the scenes it remains one of the preferred newsroom formats.
On a sports level, there is no other channel as complete as ESPN. The Disney division offers developers (who are fortunate enough to gain access) an incredibly rich API. It has much more than just sports results: information about athletes, schedule of events, and an almost infinite library of interconnected data.
An example of the latter could be requesting interesting information about an American football team and getting data to fill in a report such as "The Dallas Cowboys have a 3-0 record against teams with new Quarterback on Thanksgiving". All the crazy statistics that any sports newsroom could ever want are on this ESPN API.
ProPublica is an American non-profit organization. It's an independent entity that bases its business model on creating research journalism thanks to donations from its supporters. Working with IFTTT, a platform that serves as a link between various sources and destinations, has managed to create automation tools that are extremely useful for newsrooms around the world.
The ProPublica channels on IFTTT make it possible to automate tasks that, until now, involved a huge amount of resources:
- Receiving an alert every time the President approves a new law.
- Keep an up to date spreadsheet with the new legislations.
Media and agencies such as The New York Times, AP, Reuters, NPR and BBC have their own respective platforms with similar aims. Their APIs are focused on the possibility of sharing the journalistic content they generate for their partners.
On the other side of the pond, the BBC maintains extra interfaces based on its obligations as a public organization. It provides access to the broadcast times of its programs and information about them and their presenters.
Knowing the strata of the population to which the media are directed is paramount. The interests, intentions and motivations of citizens can help shape the resources of a story. There is nothing better for that than using the many marketing tools available to these departments.
Used for journalistic purposes, they become a powerful weapon. One example would be Facebook's Topic Data, information from the infinite social conversation that users have on the largest social network in the world.
Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and other social platforms also offer this tsunami of rather accessible information through companies such as Dataminr, Gnip and DataSift. Companies specializing in capturing the full value of social data establish a privacy firewall. This acts between the networks where users interact and the end clients get access to them.
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