The news and television world requires a lot of different elements to piece together the information that they give out to you. We aren’t talking about the vast manpower resources they employ, but about the kind of tools they use to extract information out of tonnes of data, before handling it out to you. Using software that are designed to, specifically, work in the rigorous and fiery environment of the newsroom, they are able to pass on vital knowledge about the world, to us.
Computer aided reporting is all about cheap and user-friendly software that people can use without worrying about spending too much money or time on learning about how to run things. There isn’t too much training time for these constantly on-edge newsrooms and here’s a look at some of the best tools out there that do the job of analysing data.
1. CSV Kit
A complete utility suite, the CSV Kit comes with Unix commands that allow you to get the data you need from the vast data storages that are connected to the system. It helps you analyze the data, format it and import it through comma-separated files. It allows you to use the convenience of Microsoft Excel, giving you the advantage of opening the data in those software, however, what the CSV Kit really does is it gives you something better than Excel.
It gives you a perfect place to view the data, examine it and even modify or summarize it to get the information you need. Anyone who’s worked on a Unix based system before will find this software extremely simple to use, while also providing you with most of the popularly and commonly needed commands on a separate batch file. The requirement of learning the commands and typing them in makes the system quite tedious and ensures that you will need to be an expert at the system if you are looking to use it in the newsroom’s pressure-cooker environment.
A JQuery plug-in that has been specifically designed to create HTML tables, using data from a number of different sources, that can be searched through or sorted, DataTables is something that every newsroom can use. The advantage of this tool is that it makes the entire search-process simpler by adding in a real-time search system that begins searching through the tables as you start entering the data.
While the search algorithm, as well as the capabilities of the software, is quite basic, it is good enough to compile a lot of data quickly but still requires someone with considerable experience to handle it under pressure.
What happens when you turn a Google Docs’ spreadsheet into a database that can be sorted, posted onto the Internet and even be interacted with, when there? The answer is “FreeDive”! This product allows you to search through the data on the basis of the text you enter as well as on the basis of a slider that, like in Excel, allows you to scroll down through the data. You do not require any programming experience to put this one to work and if you can make a database without programming experience, then you surely should be able to use the database without cramming up books either.
When you need to handle a lot of data, finding something that can do it for you simply and without too much trouble is the ideal way to deal with the situation. So the next time you are looking to procure some fancy little software to handle your data issues, take a step back and use these fantastic tools to refine your little newsroom.