A journalistic exercise about News of EU harmonization of Charging devices affecting Apple
An analysis of how news outlets and organizations cover a piece of news over time and how to automate this analysis.
This exploration of how a piece of news spread from news outlet to news outlet is inspired by this night spent reading beyond the news: the future of journalism by Mitchell Stephen. After reading a passage in this book that analyzes how a scoop is covered over time by different news organizations from the first that publish it to the last one that decided to use one of its skilled journalists to cover it, I started writing a letter about this publication hat I am actually developing but I discovered a piece of news about apple likely to be forced to get rid of its specific lightning charge. Here is how I discovered this piece of news about apple and its lightning charging port.
Once I have written the letter that was about asking for sponsorship to platforms like statista for getting data that will illustrate the investigative stories that will be published on this publication project, I needed to find those platforms like statista from which I could get data for my investigative stories based on quantitative facts. These are platforms like Quandl, our world in data, who.int, cdc.gov, and others.
Looking for these platforms, I landed on this web page that lists 70 news and data platforms. Exploring this list, chron.com, this news platform from Houston caught my attention because Houston was already in my mind not because of Tesla and Elon musk but thanks to Mary Ann Azevedo alias bayareawriter a tech journalist at TechCrunch from whom I knew the emerging position of Houston as a place of entrepreneurship like what silicon valley is and I did some research about this emerging entrepreneurship ecosystem of Houston that enforced this opinion in my mind because I got know about many big companies planning to headquarter in Houston. Then because of Houston, I decided to visit for the first time chron.com by clicking on its link on this list of news and data platforms.
Once on the landing page of chron.com, the design caught my eyes and I expressed the desire to work for a news outlet like that. That’s how I feel every time I discover an interesting news platform. I then went to the technology columns because I am mostly interested in tech journalism. In the Technology column of chron.com, I discovered this published headline that is One plug and done: Apple may have a standard charging cable soon due to EU measures, a headline published a month ago but I was not aware of this news of Apple about to be constrained to use this standard electric charging port named USB-C.
Then as this article will be mostly about handling time and date I could already say that between the date on which this piece of news was first publicized and the date and time on which I knew about it is one month (lag time ), too late for someone like me interested in news about tech but I should confest and I agree that I’m not this news consumers who spend many times exploring the many news outlets. You already see that it’s just today July 6, 2022, that I knew about chron.com but it’s never too late to know about something and if you want to know something that is not related to this article let me tell you that writing the prose it’s never too late I thought about this project about climate called the carbon almanac that has this slogan that is it’s not too late.
but before being late let’s come back to our exercise about this piece of news about apple about to be forced to use a standard charging port. This exercise will be about getting to know when each news organization covered this piece of news and if possible how this news spread among us, news consumers.
My little research helped me know that the European union first announced its project of harmonization of charging cable of all mobile devices because I get to discover this tweet from the European commission posted on its official Twitter profile on May 2, 2022
As you can see with this tweet the European Commission announced that it has informed apple about issues concerning abuse of dominant position but this early tweet
shows that this project of the European Commission about charging ports of mobile devices started a year ago. But back in September 2021, it was just a regulatory project that needed more analysis, studies, and debates before a decision could be drawn.
On June 7, 2022, most American news portals published this information about the European commission information Apple about its preliminary views, on being that Apple should adopt the same charging port format that other consumer electronic device manufacturers have adopted because the European commission believes that it’s simpler for the consumers but this article is not about taking a position about this issues and exploring the legality of the decision of the European commission. It’s about analyzing how news professionals have relayed this information on a timeline basis and if possible how many of us engaged with this news on social media. While most American news websites published this information on the date of June 7, 2022, france24 the french international news organization reported the announcement of the project of t of the European commission early on September 23, 2021, a year before these articles that are the materials of this journalistic exercise.
Before analyzing the news about the final output, the final result of this European regulation project about big tech, let’s analyze how media around the world covered the announcement of the project and this particularly for American media because I found any reference to the announcement of this European regulation project in these American news platforms right now like how France24 covered it in this headline I translated in English: The EU wants to impose a universal charger to all device manufacturers, Apple is against.
After a little exploration on search engines (bing, google) I discovered that like France24, American news organizations have also reported the announcement of this project of the European commission willing to plan to impose a universal charger for all electronic devices. For example, CNBC published this headline: EU agrees to make common charger mandatory for Apple iPhones and other devices an article reported by CNBC’s journalist Sam Shead on this same June 7, 2022 date of publication by France24 but the earliest article about the announcement of this project of harmonization of charging ports of electronic devices by European Authorities I saw was reported by Louise Guillot from politico with this headline: Brussels wants Apple to change iPhone charging system by 2024, an article that was published earlier on September 20, 2021, three days before the main news stream about this announcement .
Louise’s article on politico links to the relevant regulatory procedures and documents of this European commission’s regulation project ( example 2019/2983(RSP)) .. Exploring the related document shows that the procedure of device charger harmonization started back in January 2020 date on which the bill was first introduced to the European parliament what makes me think that we should have news articles earlier than the date on which this article by Louise Guillot published on politico that I was referring to
Deeper research shows that there are many articles that covered this charging device regulation project by the EU in January 2020 (here is a list of these articles)
Three waves of news coverage
For this event of regulation of the charging port of electronic devices like smartphones, headphones, and others, we could see that we have three waves of coverage by all major and small news organizations. The first wave was in January 2020 when the project was first introduced to the European Commission, the second between September 2021 to October 2021, and the last in past June 2022.
from the first word of this article to this word that you are reading I have been gathering information about articles manually by searching articles about this issue and recording them on this googlesheet but automating this task is way better. So I decided starting from here to use my programming skill to get the data I was manually getting. For that purpose, I will use newsAPI with python in order to get all the articles about this regulation about common device chargers.
So I registered to News API and got a Key (can’t provide it to you) and installed the python client library of this NewsAPI
Armed with my API key for NewsAPI and the python client library, I opened my spyder IDE and started coding a script that will allow achieving the automation I was referring to in the subsequent paragraph.
sometimes after I get to write this python script below that helped me get a list of 68 articles lastly published about this topic with all the information like publication date and time that I need for performing this analysis that is the subject of this article you are reading. The simple code that I have written uses the newsAPI, a Pandas DataFrame for outputting a CSV file( you can get it here) with the results
and here is the result shown in a Microsoft Excell file with the column that interests us highlighted in red
we will use this excel file for building a timeline chart that will show when each news organization published about this European commission regulation about charging devices but we could already see that our dataset tells that The Verge is the first English news outlet to publish about this issue with an article by John porter with this headline: Mandatory USB-C phone port edges closer after EU deal this on June 7, 2022, at 9:50:32
the first chart I drafted with the data I got from newsAPI is below. The blue dots are articles published and the horizontal axis represents the number of seconds elapsed since the first published article (this one from The Verge).
this simple but not so elaborated chart can show us that the first batch of articles about this regulatory event has been published 38 hours after the first (taking English articles only), mainly 55 articles by major news outlets for this same news break in less than two days (48 hours).
I thought that considering this first batch only for the chart could help better grasp the timelined coverage. So let’s build this chart that is about this 55 first article and here is how it looks like
As you can see this batch of 55 articles can also be sliced into two other batches, the first happening in less than 50000 seconds (less than a day) after the first article by The Verge. Here is a more elaborated timeline chart with the name of each news outlet in red with the associated data point in blue representing the time on which this new outlet had published its article.
This is for sure not the best chart that one could create but I hope that you get the idea because you can see when each news organization published about this news event affecting principally Apple even if it is broadly concerning many other manufacturers like Samsung, techno and other smartphones manufacturers. This kind of analysis helps study the dynamics of coverage of a specific news event which leads us to this question below that will conclude our exercise about the journalistic coverage of an event with coding and by some extent data science activity. This question is
For what purpose this kind of news coverage timeline analysis could be used?
we could iterate this analysis that we have done with this article about apple and the European Commission by doing it for all articles that are available online. Once we have for each news break the timeline that shows when each news organization has published about the underlying issue, we could use this as a feature of many kinds of news machine learning models like one that is about predicting the importance and urgency of a news break because one could think that the more a piece of news is important on the eyes of journalists faster they jump on it and publish something about it. There are for sure many use cases for this specific analysis that we have done together but one should automate the analysis for it to be done at a larger scale that’s what we will cover in the second part of this article because we hopefully have means for making this same analysis for millions of articles (depend on processing power and cloud billing) because we have news API like google news, news APIs, Microsoft that we can use to achieve it.
Once On this post of Louise I remembered how AI could be used for news production because a simple bot could always screen the portal of the European Commission where are posted regulatory projects for journalists to be notified every time a new project is introduced. This is true for all kinds of jurisdictions be it the European Commission or the United States’ Federal Trade Commission. Such kind of Legal events notification could help journalists spot interesting regulatory topics to cover with stories. If you have the time and skill for building such kind of legal events notification system I think that news organizations could be interested in your service given that they don’t already have such kind of tools that could track the event of all jurisdictions of all or of the most economically strong countries like The united State of America, the united kingdom, Germany, France, to name just a few of them.