"data journalism tools" entries

Nate Silver’s big move, tips for journalists at hackathons, and the limitations of polling Twitter

Tidbits from the data journalism beat

The big news in data journalism this week was Nate Silver’s announcement that he’s leaving the New York Times and taking his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN. The chatteratti immediately weighed in: TIME credits Nate Silver with elevating data journalism to the level of “real reporting”, The Washington Post says that his genius lies in journalism, not math, and Salon asks whether Silver will be able to predict Oscar winners in the same way as a Presidential campaign.

The news app editors at ProPublica have developed another digital tool for your data journalism kit. Upton is a new open-source web scraping framework that makes web scraping easier by providing reusable components. (And it’s named after the great muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair!)

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Rapid growth, open data, and the three people every data journalism team needs.

A flurry of articles are published each week purporting to give us a “progress report” on the state of data journalism. This week, Frederic Filloux of the Guardian and former Financial Times Journalist Tom Forensky debate whether the quality of data journalism is improving fast, or not fast enough. No matter which side of the argument you fall on, there’s no doubt that newsrooms are snapping up data journalists at a fast clip. To that end, the Knight Lab offers advice on the three types of people newsrooms should hire in order to build strong data journalism teams.

Your links for the week:

  • Data Journalism is improving – fast (Guardian)
    The last Data Journalism Awards established that the genre is getting better, wider in scope and gaining many creative players.
  • Is it Data Journalism Or Fancy Infographics? Progress Isn’t Fast Enough (Silicon Valley Watcher) The information conveyed is excellent but what does that do towards developing a sustainable business model for quality journalism? If data journalism can get us to that point then we can say it has made great progress but it’s not improving fast enough.
  • Want to build a data journalism team? You’ll need these three people (Knight Lab)
    When I started using software to analyze data as a reporter in the late 1980s, “data journalism” ended once my stories were published in the newspaper. Now the publication of the story is just the beginning. The same data can also be turned into compelling visualizations and into news applications that people can use long after the story is published. So data journalism — which was mostly a one-person job when I started doing it — is now a team sport.
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What journalists can learn from gamers, using ‘citizen sensors’, and best hits of a data pioneer

As the field grows, and the demands for “data journalists” proliferate, journalists find themselves walking a fine line between embracing technology’s potential in the field, and never losing sight of the crucial role of the journalist — which has traditionally been focused on helping people acquire the tools to make sense of information. This week’s links include stories about how journalists and storytellers are adapting the profession for success in this new world of information, where the data tells the story.

Journalism and Technology

  • What News Nerds Can Learn from Game Nerds, Day One (The ProPublica Nerd Blog)
    In journalism, we’ve heard over and over again that mobile is the future. So what kind of storytelling can we do to take advantage of the fact that if they’re on their smartphone we know our readers’ physical location, and that with the right inspiration, they are willing to move great distances? What if on election day, we could help voters find their most convenient polling locations?
  • The danger of journalism that moves too quickly beyond fact (Poynter)
    The best thinking about journalism’s future benefits from its being in touch with technology’s potential. But it can get in its own way when it simplifies and repudiates the intelligence of journalism’s past. Machines bring the capacity to count. Citizens bring expertise, experience and an expanded capacity to observe events from more vantage points. Journalists bring access, the ability to interrogate people in power, to dig, to translate and triangulate incoming information, and a traditional discipline of an open-minded pursuit of truth. They work best in concert.
  • A pioneer retraces the data trail (The Age)
    Author Simon Rogers founded the Datablog in early 2009 and oversaw it until May 2013 when he became Data Editor at Twitter. This book is a “best hits” compilation, a primer for data journalists and a compendium of weird and wonderful facts.

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Data journalism: From eccentric to mainstream in five years

The Guardian's Simon Rogers on why data journalism caught on and where it goes from here.

Simon Rogers (@smfrogers), editor of The Guardian’s Datablog and Datastore, and a speaker at the upcoming Strata Conference in California, was one of the first data journalists at The Guardian.

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…