The Associated Press is still a dominant figure in the race calls on election night. So, when the newswire announced changes to the way it distributes election data, The New York Times’ Jeremy Bowers knew they needed to adapt their legacy system to receive the information faster, according to a recent article by Benjamin Mullin for Poynter.
Earlier this year, The AP released an updated version of its elections API that gives journalists access to information. The issue for The New York Times was that its software was built for FTP and was not compatible with The AP’s new API, potentially adding precious minutes to the retrieval information that should be called in real time.
Bowers began working on a project on GitHub when he was contacted by David Eads, a news apps developer on the NPR Visual team. Since the issue was common to both parties, they teamed up to tackle the issue together. The project embraced the open-source ideal and gained support from news developers across the US, eventually resulting in the release of Elex.
The Elex program works with The AP’s interface to provide usable files to newsrooms. The incoming data is fed directly into a spreadsheet for use by journalists to analyse and use to build engaging graphics. And since the program doesn’t rely on The AP’s older protocol, information is transmitted and received considerably faster.
The API has been around in some form since 2014 but enjoyed limited exposure to date, so The Associated Press has no plans to discontinue the older method just yet and will continue to publish information on both protocols simultaneously. However, if news organisations across the US begin using Elex to access the new API, we could finally see news organisations embrace APIs to retrieve information from The Associated Press faster than ever before.