Monthly Archives: September 2013

5 tips for a data journalism workflow: part 1 – data newswires and archiving

Earlier this year I spoke at the BBC’s Data Fusion Day (you can find a liveblog of the event on Help Me Investigate) about data journalism workflows. The presentation slides are embedded below (the title is firmly tongue-in-cheek), but I thought I’d explain a bit more in a series of posts – beginning here.

Data journalism workflow 1: Set up data newswires

Most newsrooms take a newswire of some sort – national and international news from organisations like the Press Association, Reuters, and Associated Press.

Data journalism is no exception. If you want to find stories in data, it helps to know what data is coming out, when it comes out.

Continue reading

Curated: Web Security and Journalists (Flipboard magazine)

web security tips magazine

I’ve pulled together a collection of articles and resources for anyone interested in web security and surveillance, and how it affects journalists. You can find it on Flipboard here. If you want to contribute to the collection, get in touch, or recommend an article in the comments below.

FAQ: Does data journalism subvert the norm of objectivity?

Here are another set of questions from a student as part of the FAQ section – the last one is a goodie.

Question 1: Do you think data journalism can reduce the cost of investigative journalism?

Yes. It reduces the cost of collecting information, certainly: scrapers for example can automate the collection and combination of hundreds of documents; other tools can automate cleaning, combining, comparing or checking information. But it also offers opportunities in reducing the cost of distribution (for example automation and personalisation), collaboration, and even visual treatments. Continue reading

Web security for journalists – takeaway tips and review

Web security for journalists - book cover

Early in Alan Pearce‘s book on web security, Deep Web for Journalists, a series of statistics appears that tell a striking story about the spread of surveillance in just one country.

199 is the first: the number of data mining programs in the US in 2004 when 16 Federal agencies were “on the look-out for suspicious activity”.

Just six years later there were 1,200 government agencies working on domestic intelligence programs, and 1,900 private companies working on domestic intelligence programs in the same year.

As a result of this spread there are, notes Pearce, 4.8m people with security clearance “that allows them to access all kinds of personal information”. 1.4m have Top Secret clearance.

But the most sobering figure comes at the end: 1,600 – the number of names added to the FBI’s terrorism watchlist each day.

Predictive policing

This is the world of predictive policing that a modern journalist must operate in: where browsing protesters’ websites, making particular searches, or mentioning certain keywords in your emails or tweets can put you on a watchlist, or even a no-fly list. An environment where it is increasingly difficult to protect your sources – or indeed for sources to trust you.

Alan Pearce’s book attempts to map this world – and outline the myriad techniques to avoid compromising your sources. Continue reading

Three book reviews: leaks, FOI, and surveillance

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark book cover
This Machine Kills Secrets book cover

If you’re interested in leaks, surveillance or FOI, three book reviews I wrote over the last two months on the Help Me Investigate blog recently might interest you: