These are the five pertinent points raised by Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust, in the wake of WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan War logs, and the resulting stories by The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel. He predicts that massive data releases of this kind are likely to accelerate — so news organisations need to get their act together and ask themselves the following:
1. How do we harness public intelligence to generate a long tail of stories?
2. How do we make it personal?
3. How can use the data to increase trust?
4. How do we best — and quickly — filter the data (and work out what, and what not, to publish)?
5. How can we ensure future whistleblowers bring their data to us?
Some pertinent points on data journalism from Mary Hamilton’s Metamedia blog, reiterating the importance of journalists’ ability to make sense of data:
“We need to know our way around a spreadsheet. We need to be able to spot patterns in data and understand not only what they mean but also how we can use them to reveal stories that are not only relevant but useful.
We need to know where our skills can get us. We need to know our capabilities and our limits – and, crucially, we must be aware of what we don’t know. [...]
Journalism is about asking the right questions. We research stories before we interview subjects so that we can ask pertinent questions whose answers will illuminate the subject. We need to be able to do the same thing with our data – we need to know what questions to ask and how, so that even if we can’t make the tools ourselves we can hand over the task to someone else without asking the impossible or wasting their time.”
Data journalism in action: hacks and hackers February 5, 2010Posted by Jonathan Hewett in : delicious links , add a comment
Some interesting examples from a 'Hacks and Hackers Hack Day' run by ScraperWiki "to see what happens when you put journalists and developers in the same room and ask them to come up with a data-driven story in one day."??They came up with everything from mapping the shortest journeys and the profiles of candidates in the safest Conservative constituencies, to gifts and freebies received by the Mayor of London, and which MPs (and from which parties) write for which newspapers.
Fun with tax data? — See the data underlying our tax database | Business | guardian.co.uk February 4, 2009Posted by Jonathan Hewett in : delicious links , add a comment
The Guardian has released its data on FTSE 100 companies' pre-tax profits and how much they paid in tax — xml file available. Interesting to see what others do with it…
"Here is the data for the four-year totals, converted into pounds for those companies who state their accounts in another currency. This file also contains other information about the companies, including comments they made to the Guardian, and links to their published annual reports."database, Journalism, journalism education, Newspapers, NYTimes, USA , add a comment
An interesting vacancy at Medill School of Journalism (Northwestern University, Illinois), which is advertising for a professor of database journalism “to teach data analysis and interactive deployment of data”. Good stuff. According to the vacancy note:
The successful candidate will have expertise in analyzing data for journalistic work and will be expected to teach students how to create and deploy database-driven applications on the World Wide Web and other digital platforms.
I imagine this role will complement the Journalist-Programmer scholarships at Medill, set up by Rich Gordon (and funded by a Knight News Challenge grant). The scholarships are geared towards programmers or web developers who are interested in journalism.
Bringing people with an IT background into journalism, rather than vice-versa, echoes the experiences of Aron Pilhofer, head journo-techie at the New York Times. Eric Ulken wrote up some interesting points from their discussions, including:
When I throw out the old question about whether it’s easier to teach a journalist programming skills or to teach a techie the principles of journalism, he tells me it’s not so much a question of trainability. Rather, he says, “there are more programmers out there that will find journalism interesting to learn” than vice-versa. He tells me that, with a couple of exceptions, the people on his team have either “very limited journalism experience or none whatsoever.”
There’s another interview with Pilhofer here, on Old Media, New Tricks.
Bebo kids will value privacy when they see adults do too | Comment is free | The Guardian October 31, 2008Posted by Jonathan Hewett in : delicious links , add a comment
Cory Doctorow says parents of the YouTube generation have not learned an important lesson:
"When we tell kids to safeguard their privacy from everyone except governments, merchants, advertisers, entertainment giants, schools, Transport for London and parents, we tell them that we're not really serious about this stuff. Worse, when we allow our own private information to be taken by all these parties, we tell them that privacy is the cheapest coin of all. When BT secretly installs spyware in our browsers and captures all our clicks in order to serve ads to us, our lack of outrage tells our kids everything they need to know about the value of privacy."
Applying Benford's Law to CAR — car-chase.net October 17, 2008Posted by Jonathan Hewett in : delicious links , add a comment
A technique to check figures, particularly to aid computer assisted reporting (CAR), summarised by Chase Davis:
"One of the techniques [Phil] Meyer mentioned is known as Benford's Law — a decades-old mathematical rule that forensic accountants have recently used to spot fraud by examining the distribution of individual digits in large datasets. I've been meaning to test it out for a long time, ever since I came across this old New York Times article earlier this year, but I never took the time until a couple weeks ago. […]
Most people assume that individual digits in something like a budget are randomly distributed […] when in fact that isn't the case. […] The important thing is that checking to see whether individual digits occur at the expected rates can reveal indications of fraud — particularly when you're looking at data that people can fudge. […]
You can't support a story on it, but Benford's Law can tip you off when something is amiss."