The event will involve journalists from the BBC and other news websites in the Midlands – but more importantly it’s open to anyone who wants to get stuck into data related to the key issues this election.
The free version of Twittercounter does something very simple: it shows you a chart comparing two of three metrics: your followers, your volume of tweets, or the number of people you are following.
It’s not completely accurate, but its simplicity does something very important: it focuses your attention on whether your use of social media has any impact, on one metric at least: the size of your audience.
Of course followers is only one metric – I’ll write in a future post about other metrics and other ways of measuring those – but the ease with which Twittercounter works makes it as good a place as any for aspiring students to begin exploring the importance of measurement in modern journalism.
By way of example, here are 11 charts which show how a simple tool like Twittercounter can illustrate what you’re going right as a journalist – and where you can improve. Continue reading →
Journalists rarely get their hands on nice, tidy data: public bodies don’t have an interest in providing information in a structured form. So it is increasingly part of a journalist’s job to get that information into the right state before extracting patterns and stories.
A few months ago I sent a Freedom of Information request asking for the locations of all litter bins in Birmingham. But instead of sending a spreadsheet downloaded directly from their database, the spreadsheet they sent appeared to have been converted from a multiple-page PDF.
This meant all sorts of problems, from rows containing page numbers and repeated header rows, to information split across multiple rows and even pages.
In this post I’ll be taking you through I used the free data cleaning tool OpenRefine (formerly Google Refine) to tackle all these problems and create a clean version of the data. Continue reading →
But when the dodgy poll is done with children and relates to porn and sexually explicit videos, you’d expect journalists to exercise a little scepticism.
Unfortunately, when the NSPCC sent out a press release saying that one in ten 12-13 year olds are worried that they are addicted to porn and 12% have participated in sexually explicit videos, dozens of journalists appear to have simply played along – despite there being no report and little explanation of where the figures came from.
Dozens of news websites repeated the NSPCC’s claims about porn addiction in children