Journalism, Geolocation and Personalisation

The New Yorks Times has published a story on economic mobility which recognises a viewer’s location from their I.P address and changes the text accordingly. ‘The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares’ has been put together by a team at Upshot and is an interactive exploration of data gathered during a study by economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren at Harvard.

By personalising the reporting to a reader’s viewpoint, the authors hope to make the economics directly relevant to the reader. Justin Ellis at NiemanLab explains how the story uses templates and automatic writing to draw a reader in by answering the question ‘What does that look like where I live’?

‘Once you have the data, you need to translate it into something useful to users. The Upshot team decided to use prose templates that could be rewritten by a bot based on the data specific to where you live and your neighboring counties. Sharp-eyed readers can see the changes on the page if you enter another county while reading the story’.