ENTRIES TAGGED "data journalism"
Notes and links from the data journalism beat
Data journalism is becoming a truly global practice. Data journalists from the UK, China, and the US are sharing data-oriented best practices, insights, and tools. Journalists in Latin America are meeting this week to push for more transparency and access to data in the region. At the same time, recent revelations about NSA domestic surveillance programs have pushed big data stories to the front pages of US papers. Here are a few links from the past week:
Transparency…or Lack Thereof
- OpenData Latinoamérica: Driving the demand side of data and scraping towards transparency (Neiman Journalism Lab)
“There’s a saying here, and I’ll translate, because it’s very much how we work,” Miguel Paz said to me over a Skype call from Chile. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s illegal. Here, it’s ‘It’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.” Paz is a veteran of the digital news business. The saying has to do with his approach to scraping public data from governments that may be slow to share it.
- The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism (zdnet.com)
On Thursday, June 6, the Washington Post published a bombshell of a story, alleging that nine giants of the tech industry had “knowingly participated” in a widespread program by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). One day later, with no acknowledgment except for a change in the timestamp, the Post revised the story, backing down from sensational claims it made originally. But the damage was already done.
- We are shocked, shocked… (davidsimon.com)
Having labored as a police reporter in the days before the Patriot Act, I can assure all there has always been a stage before the wiretap, a preliminary process involving the capture, retention and analysis of raw data. It has been so for decades now in this country. The only thing new here, from a legal standpoint, is the scale on which the FBI and NSA are apparently attempting to cull anti-terrorism leads from that data. But the legal and moral principles? Same old stuff.
- Big Data Has Big Stage at Personal Democracy Forum (pbs.org)
Engaging News Project’s Talia Stroud tackled the issue of public engagement in news organizations. Polls on websites don’t yield scientifically accurate results, nor do they get people to address difficult issues, she said. “These data are junk. We know they’re junk,” Stroud said. “City council representatives know they’re junk. Even news organizations know that the results of these data are junk. The only reason that this poll is being included on the news organization’s site is to increase interactivity and increase your time on page.”
Twitter has hired Guardian Data editor Simon Rogers as its first data editor.
Twitter has hired its first data editor. Simon Rogers, one of the leading practitioners of data journalism in the world, will join Twitter in May. He will be moving his family from London to San Francisco and applying his skills to telling data-driven stories using tweets. James Ball will replace him as the Guardian’s new data editor.
As a data editor, will Rogers keep editing and producing something that we’ll recognize as journalism? Will his work at Twitter be different than what Google Think or Facebook Stories delivers? Different in terms of how he tells stories with data? Or is the difference that Twitter has a lot more revenue coming in or sees data-driven storytelling as core to driving more business? (Rogers wouldn’t comment on those counts.)
Data journalist Ryan Murphy dug into the White House sequester cut data to create a visualization of the economic impact of the sequester.
The sequester went into effect in the U.S. on Friday, and media outlets are busy fleshing out practical consequences and looking for solutions. Ryan Murphy at The Texas Tribune dug into the state-level data released by the White House (in PDF files, no less), converted it into a more user-friendly format and created an interactive visualization detailing the economic effect of the sequester cuts on each state in nine categories.
The Guardian's Simon Rogers on why data journalism caught on and where it goes from here.
In the following interview, Rogers discusses the changes he’s seen in data journalism over the last five years and how new tools and increased notoriety will shape the data journalism space.
Why has data become the story for some journalists like yourself?
Simon Rogers: It’s a big change for reporters, to go from being suspicious of numbers to noticing that often data journalism is the only way to get stories from them. I think it’s a combination — the huge growth in published data out there combining with things like WikiLeaks, which changed the game for news editors to realize this was a new way to get stories. Read more…
An interactive timeline visualization of The Rolling Stones' touring history.
From a data display perspective, the visualization is an interesting approach to a timeline story. It shows a progression through visualization as opposed to the more traditional static images along a bar or time graph.
The Washington Post developed an interactive map using data from area homicides from 2000 through 2011.
Residents in Washington D.C., or citizens considering a move to D.C., have a new tool to assess the city’s homicide rate. As part of a 15-month investigative study, The Washington Post has created an interactive map of the homicides in D.C. from 2000 through 2011. The interactive tool lets users drill down into the information by demographic, motive and manner of murder, for instance — all of which can also be isolated by neighborhood or by individual homicide.
The common thread among the Knight Foundation's latest grants: practical application of open data.
Data, on its own, locked up or muddled with errors, does little good. Cleaned up, structured, analyzed and layered into stories, data can enhance our understanding of the most basic questions about our world, helping journalists to explain who, what, where, how and why changes are happening.
Last week, the Knight Foundation announced the winners of its first news challenge on data. These projects are each excellent examples of working on stuff that matters: they’re collective investments in our digital civic infrastructure. In the 20th century, civil society and media published the first websites. In the 21st century, civil society is creating, cleaning and publishing open data.
The grants not only support open data but validate its place in the media ecosystem of 2012. The Knight Foundation is funding data science, accelerating innovation in the journalism and media space to help inform and engage communities, a project that they consider “vital to democracy.”
Why? Consider the projects. Safecast creates networked accountability using sensors, citizen science and open source hardware. LocalData is a mobile method for communities to collect information about themselves and make sense of it. Open Elections will create a free, standardized database stream of election results. Development Seed will develop better tools to contribute to and use OpenStreetMap, the “Wikipedia of maps.” Pop Up Archive will develop an easier way to publish and archive multimedia data to the Internet. And Census.IRE.org will improve the ability of a connected nation and its data editors to access and use the work of U.S. Census Bureau.
The projects hint at a future of digital open government, journalism and society founded upon the principles that built the Internet and World Wide Web and strengthened by peer networks between data journalists and civil society. A river of open data flows through them all. The elements and code in them — small pieces, loosely joined by APIs, feeds and the social web — will extend the plumbing of digital democracy in the 21st century.
Michael Maness on why data science research matters and how the Knight News Challenge is adapting.
Big data and open data are attracting big notice: The Knight Foundation is funding data journalism research at Columbia and has chosen "data" as the next theme for its News Challenge.
Emily Bell is entrusted with teaching the data journalists of the next century at Columbia University.
In this interview, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University talks about the challenges and opportunities that face those who would practice data journalism in the 21st century. In particular, Emily Bell discusses the skills and mindset that are needed, including how a $2 million research grant will help support developing them.