Pulling a Dick Cheney, context, and just getting started in data journalism

The New York Times is replacing Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog (which Silver took to ESPN back in July) with a brand new site intended to “produce clear analytical reporting and writing on opinion polls, economic indicators, politics, policy, education, and sports.” The venture will be headed by D.C. bureau chief David Leonhardt, who also helmed the search committee and selected himself for the job. Naturally, his colleagues are teasing Leonhardt for “pulling a Dick Cheney.”  The new team will also include presidential historian Michael Beschloss, Nate Cohn of The New Republic, and economist Justin Wolfers.

Take it from me —  If you are short on time, do not even attempt to play around on the new Spending Stories website.  Developed by the folks at Open Knowledge Foundation and Journalism++, Spending Stories is intended to help journalists understand and contextualize spending data by making easy comparisons to other data.  For example, using the site, I was able to see that $15,000 US dollars is equal to 3% of private ambulance costs in Yorkshire, England; 0.02% of the cost of the contract awarded to IT company CGI for implementing healthcare.gov; and 90% of government spending per person per year in the UK in 2012. It’s a fun tool!

A little late, but worth a look: At October’s ONA conference, Emma Carew Grovum, a data journalist at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, shared a list she compiled of the best data projects from small newsrooms. Worth checking out.

Frank Sesno of the Washington Post moderated a Data Visualization DC meetup this week, held in the old printing press room at the Washington Post.  (Which is quite a spectacular room if you ever have the chance to visit.) Sesno mentioned that the new owner of the Post, Jeff Bezos, would have liked to attend the meetup, “From Computer-Aided Journalism to Data Journalism.” And, according to the blog at datajournalismdc, the lively Q&A from the audience after the event included several questions about Jeff Bezos’ plans for hiring….with no response from the assembled panel.

Finally, for those just getting started in data journalism, the tumblr Baby Steps in Data Journalism purports to have everything you need to know, “starting from zero.”

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