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Welcome to a Journalism of Things

By Clement Charles, CEO & Founder, AllTheContent News Agency

The joke is one all political enthusiasts have heard. “How tall is President Sarkozy? A meter forty-seven according to trade unions, and a meter eighty-eight according to the police.” With the journalism of things, this type of debate will end.

The Internet of Things is often described as the next physical evolution of the network. Each object capable of communicating or generating data may become connected, and in so doing, may become a part of the World Wide Web.

Be they surveillance cameras, motion or other sensors, various types of measuring tools able to connect to the Internet are ever-increasing. Formerly fixed, these instruments are becoming more and more mobile, integrated to vehicles, drones and handheld devices.

I believe many of these tools have already become relevant in terms of journalistic investigation and fact-checking. More widely, these technologies could also be used to generate mass data, thereby creating valid statistics, without the traditional limitations of reduced cross-sections.

In keeping with the witticism mentioned above, a classic demonstration in which organizers quote a participation of 1 million people, while the police or the government only confirm the presence of 200,000, perfectly illustrates issues which a journalism of things may address via solid, empirical, complete answers, that will be accessible to all. Of course, out of these two figures, one is deemed to be untrue. But the most likely scenario is that both declarations are (willingly) incorrect – the digital truth will be found somewhere in the middle.

Without waiting for further technological developments, there are already two ways of determining the number of demonstrators. Based on the principle that the number of demonstrators is x/m2 (depending on the public type, for example, high school students or families), the calculation is possible by accessing a drone-generated comprehensive picture of the crowd at a given moment. Another possibility would be to analyze the flow of people at a pre-defined crossing point, with private webcams or surveillance cameras.

Using existing tools for the sake of precision is no longer a luxury. With a journalism of things, media are not only able to, but required to access a new generation of non-human, dependable, open sources.

PS: In actual fact, the former French president is a meter sixty-nine.

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