After much anticipation, The New York Times has released its first API: a Campaign Finance API that allows developers to retrieve contribution and expenditure data based on United States Federal Election Commission filings (our New York Times Campaign Finance API profile). The API is part of the new Times Developer Network, which will eventually give developers access to several APIs. As explained in The New York Times Blog:
The initial version of the Campaign Finance API offers overall figures for presidential candidates, as well as state-by-state and ZIP code totals for specific candidates. In addition, the API supports a contributor name search using any of the following parameters: first name, last name and ZIP code.
The Developer Network site includes various resources, including API documentation, a developer's forum, and an application gallery (the API itself is managed by Mashery). The app gallery currently includes a few examples, such as a PHP-based Campaign Finance Chart Application that leverages both The New York Times API and the Google Charts API (and is our Mashup of the Day today).
Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb has some additional coverage on the release of the API, including the following insight:
We believe that steps like this are going to prove key if big media is to thrive in the future.
We concur. This is a great first step for The New York Times, and we hope that it will be the first of many APIs released by the traditional media company. According to the Times Developer Network site, the next API in development is a Movie Reviews API (our Movie Reviews API profile) that will give you access to movie reviews by New York Times critics. It will be interesting to see if other newspapers and media companies follow suit. As we have seen, NPR has moved forward with its own API and just today DayLife released an enterprise API for publishers. How important will APIs be for news organizations going forward? These new business models are something Jeff Jarvis has been thinking about, see these slides on New business models for news for an upcoming summit at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. And since this NY Times API mixes news and politics, if you are interested in campaign finance, you can check out the Follow the Money API for data on state level campaign data, as well as 30 other government related APIs.