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Journalism students triumph at inaugural #BuildTheNews event

City University London and Imperial College London students awarded top prize for Low Pass, a Twitter 'noise' filter for journalists.

by Ben

nullLow Pass, a Twitter 'noise' filter designed by students from City University London and Imperial College London (pictured, left), was named as Best Project at the inaugural Build the News Event, last weekend.

The sheer volume of tweets, or noise, that surround a major news story make it very hard for journalists to find first-person, eye-witness accounts of events as they unfold. Low Pass cuts through the confusion and allows the user to easily find tweets from the beginning stages of a story via an interactive interface.

The Build the News event, which was sponsored by The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun, brought together the country's leading journalism students and web developers and challenged them to come up with a novel digital journalism project.

nullTeam member Jeshua Maxey explained more on his blog:

"Consider an event such as the Boston bomb­ings. For such an event, one would expect the graph for #bostonbombing to be completely flat until the point at which the bomb goes off. At that point there is a huge spike as everyone starts talking about what's going on: speculation, misinformation and opinion all but eliminate any chance that the first few com­men­ta­tors on the ground will be heard. The signal is completely lost in an ocean of noise.

"Low Pass is a tool that presents this graph to you, taking a hashtag and a point in time you know to be close to the time of the event as the only inputs. You then select the period of time you want to see tweets from (as a jour­nal­ist, you most likely want to see tweets from the low activity time period just before the event spreads across social media) and Low Pass gives them to you. That's it. It's quite simple, but we thought we were onto something with it."

Kadhim Shubber, currently studying on City's Investigative Journalism MA, says the team hope to continue working on Low Pass in the coming months:

"We plan to tidy up the work we did at the weekend and then begin developing and experimenting with the tool further over the summer. We'd love to prototype it in a newsroom so we could test it in a real-world environment."

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.