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Four TED Talks worth watching

Four TED Talks worth watching

Margaret Looney | January 30, 2013

If you need some inspiration but have only ten minutes to spare, these TED Talks are worth watching.

Nonprofit TED puts “ideas worth spreading” on center stage in the form of conferences and independently organized lectures worldwide.

These four videos offer a snapshot of journalism today, covering topics that include citizen reporting, verification of social media content, data journalism and investigating government corruption.

Data journalists are the new punks

Simon Rogers, Datablog editor at the Guardian, puts forward the idea that anyone can be a data journalist, just as anyone could be a punk rocker in the 1970s.

“All you needed was a guitar and a friend, and you had a band," Rogers says. "We’re in a situation now where we tell stories with numbers and it’s a new way of journalism that literally--like punk--anybody can do.”

Rogers says anyone can be a data journalist because data is everywhere, and free tools to manipulate that data are at our fingertips. Rogers mentions a few noteworthy tools and explains how data helped the Guardian uncover the economic causes for the London riots in 2011.

My Battle to expose government corruption

One of the first journalists to file a request under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act, Heather Brooke talks about her trials and triumphs in exposing government corruption in the British Parliament. The methods she used to uncover fraudulent spending shows that the investigative stories leading to great impact often start with a simple question.

She includes a few resources any investigative journalist can use, like the Investigative Dashboard, a website featuring a collection of all the databases you need to find any document. Another tool is Alaveteli, a platform that makes Freedom of Information (FOI) requests a cinch and can be used in any country with a FOI law.

How to separate fact and fiction online

Markham Nolan, the managing editor at social media curator Storyful, outlines the painstaking task of verifying content found on social media. Journalists use Twitter as a “de facto real-time newswire” to get instant access to breaking news, so finding the source is becoming more vital than ever, Nolan says.

“Sometimes you come across a piece of content that’s so compelling, you’re dying to use it, but you’re not 100 percent sure because you don’t know the source is credible.” he says. “You have to do that investigative work.”

He shares simple investigative techniques journalists can use to verify legitimate content, like using a phone book, Google Maps, and other free Web tools such as Spokeo and Wolfram Alpha. If you’re in a rush, at least check out the brilliant visualization of Twitter activity during the Egypt revolution.

Citizen journalism is reshaping the world

Director of Small World News, Brian Conley talks about the importance of tapping into local stories and training unheard voices to speak for themselves.

“The future of media is local,” Conley says, with journalists telling the stories of their fellow citizens in their native countries. “Everybody has a story and somebody wants to listen to it.”

For a goosebump-inducing moment, fast-forward to Conley’s anecdote about the potential for training citizen journalists.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via rico-san.

If you watch any of the videos, let us know what you think in the comments.

@margylooney