How hackers can make you a better liveblogger

    A TV grab taken from Russian TV channel (AFP/Getty Images)

    When news of a deadly explosion at a Moscow airport first broke in January, the first responders were Russians, and many of the first tweets and news updates were written in Russian. The Washington Post wanted a quick way to translate those posts and include them in their liveblog coverage.

    Enter Dan Drinkard. In an article for The Atlantic, Simone Owens reports that “Drinkard, a senior web developer for the Post, is part of what he calls ‘an embedded developer group in the newsroom.’ His main tasks are to build news apps and tools to help the journalists do their jobs.”

    Drinkard took on the challenge, creating a program that incorporated a Twitter widget and Google Translate’s code. He popped it into the liveblog, and suddenly readers had access to a fuller, more relevant range of news updates, which they could translate to English from a drop-down menu on each update. (This is something Rock Content already does, but they weren’t using Scribble technology)

    “Obviously Google Translate is not going to translate everything correctly all the time and people are going to use slang and you’re going to get the gist of the conversation often, not exactly word for word,” WaPo web producer James Buck told The Atlantic. “But it was still pretty amazing to hit publish and see all these previously indecipherable letters and words transform into meaningful reaction. There was real emotion there to what they were seeing and what was happening. There was this sort of feeling of an opening to another place.”

    How is your news org taking advantage of hackers?

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