Windy Citizen Uses Cool Tools to Cover Blagojevich

As the ripples spread from Chicago’s latest corruption drama, the community news site Windy Citizen is trying some innovative, fun approaches to online coverage and commentary. They did this using free online tools that anyone can use.

Here’s what one of these tools can create:

More about what Windy Citizen is doing on this front…

Blagojevitter: This page tracks, in real time, Twitter updates that include the terms blagojevich or fitzgerald. This page is a widget from Monittor, a free service that offers a fairly slick interface for custom Twitter tracking. Monittor widgets are slightly more complex to configure and install than ordinary widgets, but it’s not rocket science. (I actually hadn’t known about Monittor, so kudos to the WindyCitizen for putting it on my radar.)

Windy Citizen editor Brad Flora selects particularly important or interesting items from this widget to retweet via the WindyCitizen Twitter account. (Example from this morning.)

Blagojevich complaint word cloud: The graphic above was created with Wordle, a visualization tool that analyzes text and turns it into art. Here, the source text was the 78-page official complaint against the Illinois governor. In a word cloud, the biggest words appear most frequently in the source text. Even though word cloud images are static (not interactive, which is why I didn’t mention Wordle in my interactive visual tools session last week) this approach can provide insight into a document — even on a subconscious level. Plus, it’s attractive, intriguing, and fun.

…And, of course, Windy Citizen set up a Blagojevich blog.

Which other sites or services are using online media creatively to present news and commentary about this controversy? Please provide links and info in the comments below.

(NOTE: I originally published this on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits blog.)

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