Cold Comfort

From @AJC: 

For some, the cold (perhaps enhanced by the approach of Valentines Day) felt like the perfect impetus to shack up.

“Well, I think people have more obvious time when work is cancelled,” says a 28-year-old Atlantan, who only offered her first name, Katie, in a message on the online dating site OKCupid.

“I currently have 109 unread messages. Some are nice, some are creepy, some have grammatical errors that I can’t even begin to decipher, and some I haven’t even bothered to look at.”

Racheal Borgman, 27, of Decatur, said she noticed lines of men, Monday night, at the Kroger in Edgewood, buying wine, and roses, and, of course, condoms.

“Almost every guy I’ve met on OKCupid has suddenly resurfaced, texting to see if I need provisions, a bottle of wine, someone to cuddle with, a snowball fight,” she says. “And everyone has a fail-proof opener for their messages today: ‘You surviving Clusterflake v2.0?’”

A guy she met over OKCupid — a handsome National Guardsman — brought her her beer and wine, which she did not decline. “I missed (making it to) the liquor store,” she explained, “so this was an important delivery.”

Borgman kissed him, passionately, on her doorstep. He went back to work. They’re getting together this weekend.


ASL… In Atlanta/Single in the Snowstorm/Looking for Love?

There are two things I know to be anecdotally true about snowstorms.

First: It’s cold.

Second: Everyone is using the inclement weather in order to get, well, busy.

Tinder. OkCupid…. And a myriad of other dating apps (idk, Grindr?).

People are either swiping right, or rating folks indiscriminately high in order to find someone to brave the weather with.

If that’s you, or better yet, if you’re getting besieged by unwanted messages, please get in touch. I’m working on a story.


Of course, there are those jerks that never have such issues. I got this note back from a buddy on Facebook.

This was my [lady] roommate’s reply to that:
“No, if I’m trying to get laid it has very little to do with the weather, sir. More like are any of your friends’ regular attempts to get laid being thwarted by the snowstorm? In which case the answer is still no because we have no problem “getting laid.” ever.”

Some people are just obnoxious.

At The Center Of (Less Than) Three Inches of Snow: The Newsroom

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to be flip.

Atlanta has shut down. The roads have iced over. And all in less than three inches of snow — which when it initially fell was just powder.

But, the narrative that’s playing out in the South’s biggest metropolis could easily occur in other cities farther North given the same circumstances: mostly poor planning and ineffective government incapable of dealing with the storm.

At the center of storm (no pun intended) are the journalists — reporters, editors and producers, online folks, really — that have spent the past several days caught up in the drama.

Because in any disaster, let alone one that completely grips a million people, the anxiety of the newsroom peaks.

Some stranded, people sprawled out on office chairs; Others slept on floors; And support staff worked without rest to keep the information flowing.

All of that has been true of this, my first, snow storm in Atlanta.

Here, while Atlanta seemed frozen in place, dozens of reporters stayed put — many of them without a choice — while the entire lot worked remotely. It’s an uncanny dedication.

Some of the stories *from the newspaper’s editors recent note:

The work becomes especially important because the audience for the product we produce balloons. There have been record days. On Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had more than 12 million page views combined between its free ( and its premium ( websites. The previous high was a little bit more than 6 million.

It’s a rare, and important opportunity; One that you hope you’re making the best of.

Web Scraping!


For the next several days I’ll be learning the processes behind web scraping using Python at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.

The class is sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors.

The course will be taught using Python, but the concepts will be applicable to any programming language. We’ll cover topics like how to write and run code, how computer programs are structured and how data journalists use these tools to produce award-winning journalism in real-world newsrooms.

I’ll be posting all of the class’ materials within this post; You can find my notes, here.

All of the code, and the tip sheets can be found, here


NYT’ Website Attacked; Syrian Electronic Army Takes Credit

For the second time in as many weeks, the New York Times’ website is 404 — this time as the result of the efforts of digital criminals.

The Times’ virtual registration records are seemingly being altered by the Syrian Electronic Army.

The newspaper’s site went down at around four in the afternoon.

The SEA is also taking credit for altering the whois records of the UK digital edition of the Huffington Post and Twitter.

From Wikipedia:

WHOIS (pronounced as the phrase who is) is a query and response protocol that is widely used for querying databases that store the registered users or assignees of an Internet resource, such as a domain name, an IP address block, or an autonomous system, but is also used for a wider range of other information. The protocol stores and delivers database content in a human-readable format.[1] The WHOIS protocol is documented in RFC 3912.

The Times is copping to an “external attack,” according to a spokeswoman. And in its wake, the newspaper company immediately began instructing its employees…

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Has Data Journalism Reached A Tipping Point?

At the recent NICAR Conference there was a stark difference from years past; The place was packed.

More than 600 journalists (from elite newsrooms, start-ups and community newspapers) showed up — the largest crowd since near 500 more than a decade ago, and a far cry from the mere 300 that registered a few years ago in Indianapolis.

The split between men and women was even, if not tipping in the latter’s favor. Amazing because of instances like these:

And there were more students than ever before.

Says Tyler Dukes, managing editor of the Reporters’ Lab at Duke University:

This is huge, because it means journalists will come out of college with an understanding of what it means to work with data and where to get it. These skills will be great for their careers, but it’s even better for the industry as a whole. Every time a news organization hires one of these graduates, they’ll infuse their newsrooms with basic computer-assisted reporting skills that will only grow and develop over time.

The higher numbers represent more than a turn out, they also tell of editors and newsroom managers willing to spend thousands of dollars to encourage training.

Moreover, a confluence of events typified by this year’s conference has given some the confidence that for the first time there is a significant industry buy-in in the practice of data journalism.

Says Michelle Minkoff, an interactive producer at the AP:

I was struck by the presence of a more diverse group of skill levels than ever before was apparent at NICAR this year. It seemed there were more people just starting to get into data, more people doing advanced data visualization, and sessions spanning many different subsets, to serve them all… The delineations between data analysis and presentation, interactives and news applications, are all blurring – and being pursued online in text, audio, video and interactive formats.

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