Project description

This ambitious project creates regular half-pages for Trinity Mirror’s weekly titles. They’re generated automatically by connecting spreadsheets to “intelligent” graphical templates. The project works like this: the unit finds data sources on important issues (e.g. crime rates, house prices, hospital performance) which we know are broken down to fine-grained local levels; we then create graphical templates to present this data; we then ask editors of our weekly titles which localities they wish to cover (which specific postcode districts, which council areas, which wards, and so on). Our automated system then goes back to the data source, extracts the relevant data, and “injects” it into the template to create a bespoke half-page. What this means in practice is that we can (and do) create scores of print-ready half-page graphics every week, packed full of relevant and ever-changing local data, at the touch of a button. In an age where so many journalists talk about automation – but it so often either proves to be an illusion, or fails to deliver anything of real use – we believe this is not only a genuine and important innovation, but one of enduring use to a wide readership. Attached are some sample half-pages from just two of the weekly titles we cover – the Croydon Advertiser and the Macclesfield Express.

What makes this project innovative?

It uses data to automatically generate half pages using graphical templates.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

It has helped local weekly newspapers by providing them with centrally sourced content.

Source and methodology

The data is sourced from a number of sources, mainly ONS releases. These are downloaded manually but are then fed into systems which auto generate the content.

Technologies Used

Spreadsheets, java, coding, sql, photoshop.

Project members

Carlos Novoa

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