Rise of Data Journalism
By Burson-Marsteller, 2012
In the past reporters gathered and analyzed data as a way of enhancing (usually investigative) reportage, whereas data journalism focuses on the way that data sits within the whole journalistic workflow.
‘Data-driven Journalism is the Future’
- It’s hard to argue with the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who recently declared: “Journalists need to be data-savvy. These are the people whose jobs are to interpret what government is doing to the people. So it used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you'll do it that way some times. But now it's also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what's interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what's going on in the country. Data-driven journalism is the future“
Democratisation of data
- There's a great democratisation of data going on. Rather than the numbers belonging to the experts, they belong to all of us - and data journalism is part of that reclaiming of the facts.
- Crucially, data journalism doesn't have to mean data visualisation. It is not about producing charts or intricate graphics - the results of data journalism just happen to lend themselves to that. Sometimes a story is best told in images and infographics, other times it works as words and stories. Data is the ultimate in flexible formats.
- Looking at visualisations, what really comes across from this analysis of Visual.lys most viral infographics is how sometimes the simplest things can flood the web.
- Single charts are more likely to be successful because they are easy to consume; the viewer only needs to learn how to read one “chunk” of visualization to get the whole story. Simplicity lends itself to quick understanding and sharing, whereas complexity can prevent a viewer from reaching those points.
- Mixed charts, which is what we commonly think of as the typical form of an infographic, is the least successful here, perhaps because they take more mental work to consume completely, again pointing to simplicity and brevity as strengths in visual communication.
- Two useful tools for data cleaning, analysis and visualization: ScraperWiki and Google Refine for data collection and analysis. The Darwin Awareness EngineTM creates content visualizations that allow you to quickly scan across the themes contained in the content within your topic of interest.
Best Practice Data Journalism
- The data team at LaNacion were recently shortlisted for the first Data Journalism awards for their work on transport subsidies. When the team started, it had no web programmer or CAR [computer assisted reporting] people in its newsroom.
- The team is still not exactly huge - but it is easily the best data journalism site in South America and one of the most innovative around. You can read more about it on NiemanLab and via this video.
SIXTEEN TIPS FOR BETTER DATA JOURNALISM
Pick subjects with a shelf life and update the data. The BBC keeps track of military deaths in Afghanistan and links to this data from every story about a military death.
- Make tools, databases and apps that your readers will want to return to. Sticky data that continues to be useful is better than one-off, time-sensitive pieces.
- It should be easy for users to share your feature. Allow people to embed your data or make it easy to link to.
- Plan the publication and partner with a range of outlets for maximum coverage.
- Remember to re-promote the features regularly.
Continued in link 16 Tips for Better Data Journalism
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