Monthly Archives: March 2012

La Nación: data journalism from Argentina

Guest post by Duarte Romero

Since the start of the year the Argentinian newspaper ‘La Nación’ has been publishing ‘Nación Data’, a blog dedicated to data visualization, interactive projects and especially, all the news related with data journalism.

During this time they have been posting interviews with experts from the community, reporting popular events such as NICAR and sharing the most innovative pieces made by other newspapers.

The multimedia development manager of ‘La Nación’, Momi Peralta, pointed out that their main goal so far is to release as much data as they can. Continue reading

How to be a curation editor (aka network journalist)

Locals and Tourists #23: Stockholm, by Eric Fischer

I’ve always been interested in the way that journalists rely on ‘hotspots’: those places and people you check in on if you’re looking for a story. What do I mean? Here are just a few examples from traditional journalism:

  • The courts
  • The emergency services
  • The pub (and its landlord)
  • Council meetings
  • The local vicar
  • The post office (think cards in the window)

What’s notable about that list is that these are not places where news events necessarily happen, but rather where information about them gets exchanged: crimes, fires and accidents take place all over town, but most of their perpetrators, heroes and victims eventually end up swapping stories in the same places. Pubs are great places for gossip (and fights), but you can’t be there all the time (and keep your job at least).

See something or say something: Amsterdam  Red dots are locations of Flickr pictures. Blue dots are locations of Twitter tweets. White dots are locations that have been posted to both.

As more information gets exchanged online, new hotspots appear and old ones become less productive, from a journalistic point of view. Vicars deal with fewer births and marriages; cards move from the post office window to Freecycle.

I’ve written previously about network infrastructures for journalists online

A network infrastructure for journalists online

…but I wanted to add to that with some more specific, practical steps for journalists. So over on Help Me Investigate I’ve written a guide to 7 pools of sources you can use as a journalist, and how they can inform your real-world digging. These are the new ‘hotspots’.

In case you haven’t got time to click through to that post, those 7 are:

  1. Prepackaged news
  2. Corridors of power
  3. Events
  4. Reluctant disclosures
  5. Reports, research and consultations
  6. Affected communities
  7. Experts and observers

Can you add any others?

How to be a network journalist

Locals and Tourists #23: Stockholm, by Eric Fischer

Locals and Tourists #23: Stockholm, by Eric Fischer: Blue pictures are by locals. Red pictures are by tourists. Yellow pictures might be by either. Blue pictures are by locals. Red pictures are by tourists. Yellow pictures might be by either.

I’ve always been interested in the way that journalists rely on ‘hotspots’: those places and people you check in on if you’re looking for a story. What do I mean? Here are just a few examples from traditional journalism: Continue reading

The straw man of data journalism’s “scientific” claim

Guardian cover March 10 2012: Half UK's young black men out of work

Over the weekend Fleet Street Blues has had a bee in its bonnet about the “pretence” of data journalism and Saturday’s Guardian front page: “Half UK’s young black men out of work“.

This, says FSB, is a lie that demonstrates the “pretence” that “‘crunching the numbers’ is somehow an an abstract, scientific, mathematical task”. Continue reading

From CMS to DMS

There’s a persuasive argument being made by Francis Irving and Rufus Pollock in a joint blog post about the growth of data management systems – the ‘DMS’ to content management systems’ ‘CMS’:

“Just as then we wrote HTML in text files by hand and uploaded it by FTP, now we analyse data on our laptops using Excel, and share it with friends by emailing CSV files.

“But it reaches the point where using the filesystem and Outlook as your DMS stretches to breaking point. You’ll need a proper one.

“Nobody really knows what a proper one will look like yet. We’re all working on it.”

Their post lists what a DMS needs to do and the companies already trying to solve the ‘DMS problem’ from different directions: a list which includes Google Docs (“coming from the web spreadsheet direction”), the data social network BuzzData, visualisation tool Tableau, data marketplaces, operating systems, Scraperwiki, and PANDA (“making a DMS for newsrooms”)

It’s a well-drawn picture from an angle which I haven’t seen before. Certainly, a number of news organisations are trying to reduce the friction of producing content for different platforms by ‘atomising’ it in data-driven production processes (where a piece of content might be assembled and presented differently depending on the platform it is accessed through, for example), and their internal systems can probably be added to the list above.

What do you think? Is this a problem that’s being addressed in your own organisation?

Database copyright: labour has to be ‘creative’

Posted in full over on the Online Journalism Handbook blog is a summary of a recent judgement in the Court of Justice, which suggests the idea of ‘database copyright’ has to involve creativity and originality – important for those involved in data journalism who are either seeking to establish copyright over their work, or understand the situation regarding the copyright of databases they are using.

Here’s a key quote:

“criterion of originality is satisfied when, through the selection or arrangement of the data which it contains, its author expresses his creative ability in an original manner by making free and creative choices […] and thus stamps his ‘personal touch’”. Therefore, the Court continues, the criterion is “not satisfied when the setting up of the database is dictated by technical considerations, rules or constraints which leave no room for creative freedom”.

More over there

Advertising is publishing – the Facebook effect

Before the internet made it easier for advertisers to become publishers, they were already growing tired of the limitations (and inflated price) of traditional display advertising. In the magazine industry one of the big growth areas of the past 20 years was client publishing: helping – to varying degrees – companies create magazines which were then given or sold to customers, staff, members, or anyone interested in their field.

With some traditional advertising revenue streams dropping like a stone, newspapers belatedly started to see similar potential in their own markets. Trinity Mirror’s Media Wales are among a few newspaper publishers to sell video production services and the organisation has followed US newspapers in selling SEO services; while the FT followed Conde Nast when it recently bought an app production company.

While the execution varies, the idea behind it is consistent: this is no longer about selling content, or audiences, but expertise – and quite often expertise in distribution as much as in content production. Continue reading

How journalism has changed – Guardian ‘3 pigs’ video says it better than anything

There’s something almost seminal about this video promoting The Guardian’s ‘open journalism’. I’m not sure whether it’s the unusually honest acknowledgement that news is more complicated than it is often presented; the way that the video itself plays with our preconceptions, drawing attention to them in the process; or the portrayal of a production process in which non-journalists are a vital part.

I lie, of course: it’s all of those things. It’s an image of journalism utterly different from how it presented itself in the 20th century, different – if we’re honest – from the image in most journalists’, and most journalism students’, minds.

I expect I’ll be showing this a lot. Watch it.

[flv:×9.mp4 autoplay=’false’]

PS: If you have another 3 minutes, here’s Alan Rusbridger giving a slightly less dramatised angle on the same topic:


…And then move on to these videos linked from this page on how to get involved: from head of news Ian Katz:


…and on sports journalism:


…and culture reporting:


…and comment: