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I am very pleased to tell you that Josh Rogin is joining The Daily Beast as senior correspondent later this month, covering politics and national security. We are thrilled to have Josh’s talents joining those of Eli Lake, Eleanor Clift, Michael Tomasky, Michelle Cottle, Daniel Klaidman, David Freedlander, Stuart Stevens, Jon Favreau and David Frum as part of The Beast’s re-energized team under John Avlon’s direction.
Josh has been a senior staff writer with Foreign Policy magazine since 2009 where he has extensively covered the State and Defense departments, the National Security Council, Congress and the diplomatic communities. He previously wrote on foreign policy for Congressional Quarterly and has also contributed to the Washington Post. Josh is a graduate of the George Washington University, he speaks Japanese and is a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship and the 2011 recipient of the Interaction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He is originally from Philadelphia and lives currently in Washington, DC.
Please join me in welcoming Josh!
So this happened today. Our foreign policy team is getting pretty awesome.
Hidden deep in Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget is this item: “Begins work on a mission to rendezvous with—and then move—a small asteroid.”
A budget plan that President Barack Obama will release Wednesday would charge NASA Glenn Research Center with developing a solar electric propulsion system for a spaceship that will collect an asteroid and park it in the moon’s orbit so astronauts can conduct research on it.
Moving the giant space rock would give NASA experience deflecting asteroids that could prove vital to averting potential Earth collisions such as one believed to have caused a mass dinosaur extinction millions of years ago. Some asteroids also contain rare elements that mining companies are eager to exploit, NASA officials said.
Ready to hear something really, really, reeeealllly exciting?
NWKTUMBLR IS NOMINATED FOR A WEBBY! WOOHOO!
Yes, for real, how cool is that?! nwktumblr was part of the package NewsBeast submitted for the “Social: News & Information” category and we got word this morning that we were finalists for an award. The Webbys are pretty much like the Oscars for Internet dorks so that’s a pretty big deal for us!
But we’re up against some pretty stiff competition: CNN, NBC, The New York Times, and…The New York Times.
So please, if you like nwktumblr hanging out in your dashboard and want to give us any love whatsoever please take a moment and visit the Webby’s website to vote for our entry.
It looks like this:
Yes, that’s a little confusing because the screenshot is our sister tumblr at Cheat Sheet and it says “The Daily Beast Social” but we promise that little black arrow links right back here to nwktumblr.
So anyways, thanks a million for following us and liking/reblogging our stuff and know that we think you guys are very topnotch.
After the Newtown shooting in December, we had a meeting over the phone to discuss our coverage. We decided to have a two speed approach: a quick reader-driven story about why they do or don’t own guns (which we’ve written about a bit on this blog), and a deeper-dive look at the anticipated legislative issue that this and other recent shootings seemed to be bringing about, which we launched Monday as www.ThisIsYourRepOnGuns.com. The project idea grew out of the simple problem that not many people can name their representatives off the top of their head, let alone know their exact stance on gun control or how to get in touch to make their voice heard.
Eliza Shapiro, Abby Haglage and Caitlin Dickson did some awesome reporting for all 530+ representatives, digging through their voting records and previous public statements to distill their position to one of four categories: Opposes reform, Supports reform, Swing vote, or Unclear. We kept track of the sources, too, so that we could present representatives’ statements to the reader when the final thing was done.
Brian Abelson was also around to rig together @RepsGunTweets (since renamed @YourRepsOnGuns), which served as both a tool to monitor reps’ statements to see what category they fell into, as well as an open feed for anyone interested in the topic to follow on Twitter. Read about how that was built in this blog post.
The interactive currently stacks up the number of reps in each category and lets you do a combination filter by different criteria such as chamber, party and state. You can see things like how likely legislation is to pass each chamber and where different states stand. Importantly, too, you can put in your address read information on your House representative and two Senators. Using information compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, it gives you their phone, fax (for those that prefer the fax), address, twitter, website and Facebook page so you can get in touch with them. We also pulled in each representatives NRA grade and their rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to give more context to their legislative history.
My favorite part of it though, is that we’ll be updating it as the gun debate goes on. We’ve already received emails from readers who have contacted their reps with statements that we’ll add and one person sent us a local news story from their congressperson that will move him from the Oppose reform to a Swing vote. We’ll mark these updates on the landing page so people can follow along and readers can leave their email to be notified of updates.
We also did this as its own URL similar to how we did www.HavingTroubleVoting.com. As a resource and tool that was going to hopefully have a long life, we felt an easy to remember and dedicated page showed our readers that this was something they could keep coming back to.
Under the hood
The hardest part of this was getting all of the data from multiple different sources into one nice database. We had a few different people researching, different numbers coming in from different places, and multiple editors editing. We used Google Spreadsheets and good spreadsheet etiquette to make sure people were marking the categories the same way and joined them in R.
To make the stance information simple to update, the map copies that information from the main table on load instead of storing it separately with the map data.
The main page uses Isotope.js, which we’ve used a bunch before. But this was a little tricky because we needed to sort them into four columns. Fortunately, there’s some crazy extension for Isotope that lets you do just that. The harder part was figuring out how to get it to display top to bottom instead of bottom to top. But buried in the “Tests” documentation was a page on how to make your elements stack right-to-left for languages like Hebrew and Arabic. It includes the settings to rotate the positioning, which worked.
The only fancy mapping feature is if you click on a district, the map automatically pans and zooms to fit the founds of that district. This is done using the ST_Envelope() function in PostGIS through CartoDB. ST_Envelope() returns the bounding box of a given feature which you can sent to Leaflet.js’s fitBounds() method to pan and zoom to that box. The only problem to be aware of is ST_Envelope() will give you an array of x and y values but fitBounds() is expecting the format to be in y then x (lat, then long). As long as you reorder the elements in your coordinate array, Leaflet will be happy.
Getting the aesthetics of the map right was a little tricky. I wanted to make sure that a highlighted feature’s outline appears above the other features but below its own fill so you get a bright white border and then a subtler inner border. If you follow the symbol drawing order and compositing option rules in CartoCSS it becomes manageable.
From the failures folder
Here’s what the original mock-up looked like, which we weren’t too far off from. I reworked the top nav hierarchy into two main buttons, added more color and turned the rep detail elements into three columns instead of rows so it was more compact and graphic.
Some newsroom insight into how we built our tool to track where your Representative stands on guns. Check it out if you haven’t already!
This just in from the Department of Clarifications, the above has been added to our interview with Grover Norquist, Washington’s most visible anti-tax lobbyist, and a guy who knows a thing or two about “poopy-heads.”
Aaron Sorkin when asked by Tina Brown how he would create the character of General Petraeus—and if he’ll cover the scandal on Newsroom. (Spoiler: He won’t.)
Seeing the marijuana legalization wins in Washington and Colorado—and medical marijuana passage in Massachusetts -now would be a great time to read our October cover story on the new pot barons.
[photo via whats the jackanory]
Huge kudos to all for October’s stellar traffic number - 19 million uniques!
The exciting thing about this growth is how many sources it came from across the board, how much it reflects the talents, flair and energy of every single one of you firing on all cylinders, every single day. We were already beating all our records when Sandy hit, but once again, The Beast rose to it brilliantly and has aced the coverage at every turn.
Congratulations to Deidre for her great generalship in organizing storm troops so pre-emotively that we never went down and performed so well. What these numbers show is that The Daily Beast has now become a prime, trusted, mainstream news destination adding devoted users every day.
Now we have won ‘em let’s try and keep ‘em - congrats one and all!
Thanks to all too for making such efforts to keep in touch, show up at Midtown or find ways to get things done with so many difficulties with power, transportation and communications.