Katy Mersmann

Multimedia Producer

GMS: NASA Satellites See Wildfires from Space

As wildfires burn across California, NASA satellites help gather data about where the fires are and how smoke travels across the state. The smoke from the fires is even visible a million miles away from Earth, captured by NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). The Terra spacecraft can see fires in both daylight and at night, helping aid firefighters in tracking and stopping the blazes. NASA's unique vantage point in spa

GMS: NASA Watches 30 Years of Ozone Success

Thirty years ago, the nations of the world agreed to the landmark ‘Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.’ The Protocol limited the release of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere. Since the 1960s, NASA scientists have worked with NOAA researchers to study the ozone layer, using a combination of satellite, aircraft and balloon measurements of the atmosphere. Things have been improving in the 30 years since the Montreal Protocol. Thanks to

GMS: Following Carbon Dioxide Through the Atmosphere

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. Using observations from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015. Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predi

FL#131: Experimenting with vertical video | RJI

This week we explore what’s different about creating and displaying video in a vertical format — in other words, aligned to the way mobile audiences tend to hold their smartphones. News organizations like Mashable and the New York Times have published experiments with video optimized for vertical smartphone screens, while AJ+ has embraced square video as a way to serve both mobile and desktop viewers. Our report explains some of the reasoning and challenges involved. It also provides an exampl

Futures Lab update #125: Tools for making animated GIFs, and Viber chats for news | RJI

This week we test several tools that turn video and photos into animated GIF files, and we see how The Huffington Post is using the messaging app Viber to connect with audiences in a new way. Thanks to their compact size and ease of sharing on mobile devices, animated GIF files — which fit somewhere between still photos and video — have become a standard visual element that many newsrooms now incorporate into their journalism. We run through several desktop and mobile apps for creating animated

Futures Lab update #98: Ideas from nonprofit news | RJI

This week we explore some of the ideas and opportunities emerging among nonprofit newsrooms, including The Center for Investigative Reporting, The Marshall Project, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. Collaboration with other organizations is a key element of most nonprofit newsrooms, and it often enables them to go after projects they could not deliver otherwise. Steve Engelberg of ProPublica and Joaquin Alvarado of The Center for Investigative Reporting explain what goes into making these effor

Futures Lab update #78: Building brands and products at Vox Media | RJI

This week we learn how Vox Media combines content, technology and advertising to reach a mass audience via its seven digital brands, including The Verge, SB Nation and Vox.com. As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Bankoff explains, a big component of Vox Media’s operation involves blending proprietary technology, a collaborative culture and an emphasis on the overall end product. In this extended Q&A, Bankoff says risk-taking a

Futures Lab update #80: New story metrics from API; and newsroom tracking tool Desk-Net | RJI

This week we explore a new way to understand audience behavior developed by the American Press Institute; and we learn about a tool called Desk-Net that helps newsrooms manage staff and stories across platforms. The American Press Institute has developed software that enables news outlets to better understand which types of stories succeed and which don’t. The creators of the system say the resulting data can lead to a more informed editorial strategy.

RJI Futures Lab update #82: Mining online data with Vocativ, Banjo and Zapaday | RJI

This week we explore three tools that mine electronic Web data to inform news coverage. The news organization Vocativ uses sophisticated online surveillance tools that dive into the “deep Web” to find and surface newsworthy items. Chief Executive Officer Scott Cohen tells us how the combination of intelligence technology, data analysts and reporters leads to stories other organizations might not discover. According to this in-depth re

Futures Lab update #100: Telling stories with satellite imagery and using data for breaking news | RJI

This week we see how satellite data can be used for storytelling, and we learn some ways that data reporting can improve breaking-news coverage. The New York Times often incorporates satellite imagery into graphic presentations to tell far-flung stories in new ways. Graphics editor Derek Watkins explains how he and his colleagues gather and use these publicly available images. Analyzing databases is often reserved for lengthy investig
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