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Tom Meagher

News nerd.

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The truth in numbers

As the newspaper industry struggles to ensure its relevance in the changing media landscape, there are a few pioneers out there who have the right idea. One of them, Adrian Holovaty, created the innovative ChicagoCrime.org by databasing freely-available crime reports from the Web and mashing them up with Google Maps (more to come on mapping later…).

Now another innovator, the St. Pete Times’ Matt Waite has done something similar to measure the truthiness of next year’s crop of presidential hopefuls. Politifact is a Web site built on a growing database of political rhetoric, checked out with old-fashioned reporting. It’s not only interesting and entertaining to see which candidates’ pants are on fire, but it proves that today’s journalists will have a great future as newspapers evolve out of their current doldrums–if those intrepid aces can think about what readers want and what they can actually use. I think Matt sums it up nicely:

“All the talk and all the focus lately in web journalism circles is on local, local, local and to some degree they’re right. But there’s also something to be said for just putting a good idea on the web that people might find useful.”