Not a member? Sign up

AP's Overview tool helps DocumentCloud makes sense of text documents

by: Amy Gahran |

When you're tracking a story that involves reading a huge volume of text documents, it's a challenge to both manage and process the documents and see the big picture. Here's how two pieces of software can help.

A recent Knight Blog post explained how Associated Press reporter Jack Gillum used Document Cloud and Overview to show that showing that former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Congressman Paul Ryan had requested funds for his district from many federal programs which he criticized on the campaign trail as wasteful.

According to Knight, Gillum relied on two tools to tackle this daunting task:

  • DocumentCloud, to upload scans of documents, perform optical character recognition, and search the contents.
  • Overview, a data visualization tool created by AP that expands the functionality of DocumentCloud to automatically sort documents into topics and visualize the contents.

Overview is designed primarily to process English-language text documents. It's not the tool to use to process tables, data that's primarily numeric, or records exported from a database (unless they include a field containing plain English text).

Both of these tools are available as web applications available for journalists to use free of charge. Both are also previous Knight News Challenge winners. You need a DocumentCloud account to use Overview.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Amy Gahran

Amy Gahran is a journalist, editor, trainer, entrepreneur, strategist, and media consultant based in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to writing
Read More

Events
Submit an event

Media that Matters: Story, Money, Impact

Wed, June 1, 2016 5:00 pm - Sun, June 5, 2016 2:00 pm

Media That Matters: Story Money Impact is a practical workshop for media-makers, principled funders, and highly motivated activists who want to ensure their work makes an undeniable difference.  This intimate conference illuminates the spark of engagement at the core of these three pursuits. Structured around case studies from the front lines, Story Money Impact reveals best practices in the areas of documentary, digital content, and independent journalism. 

[email protected] Conference

Thu, June 2, 2016 9:00 am - Sat, June 4, 2016 2:00 pm

[email protected] is a three-day gathering tied to the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act. The conference will explore FOIA’s origins, importance, and its role in American law, politics and society. [email protected] is co-sponsored by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

Marketing Analytics & Data Science 2016

Wed, June 8, 2016 8:00 am - Fri, June 10, 2016 3:30 pm

The conference is designed to help you navigate an age where consumers demand more personalized communications, experiences and products, and internal stakeholders require more predictive intelligence to inform decisions, analytics and data science have emerged as silver bullets to uncover the human side of data.

Social Media Weekend 2016

Fri, June 10, 2016 9:00 am - Sat, June 11, 2016 6:00 pm

At the Social Media Weekend catch up on the latest social media trends, tools and people with @Sree Sreenivasan and friends at CUNY J-School. This June's #smwknd will offer two very full days of insights and networking, Q&As with social stars, Sree's State of Social presentation, free consultations with Social Media doctors, and more.

Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference

Thu, June 16, 2016 9:00 am - Sun, June 19, 2016 12:30 pm

The best in the business will gather for the Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference for more than 150 panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats. Speakers will share strategies for locating documents and gaining access to public records, finding the best stories and managing investigations. Join the discussion about how to practice investigative journalism in print, broadcast, Web and alternative newsroom models. 

Submit an event

Tools that help reporters with routine tasks

By Nancy Yoshihara
5/22/2016 | 10:00 pm GMT

Digging up leads, tracking developments and transcribing interviews are all made easier with five tools that Rob Tornoe at Editor...

A Guide to SecureDrop, a tool to protect sources and reporters

By Nancy Yoshihara
5/15/2016 | 10:00 pm GMT

SecureDrop is a free and open source software specifically designed for news organizations to securely communicate with and receive documents...