Monthly Archives: September 2015

Periodismo de datos: Un golpe rápido

Periodismo de datos… ebookMy ebook Data Journalism Heist is now available in a specially reduced Spanish translation.

Periodismo de datos: Un golpe rápido was translated by Cuban journalist Barbara Maseda, and is available in PDF, iPad and Kindle formats. The recommended price is $5.99 but a special minimum price of $1.19 is available for journalists working in countries where the full price would be too expensive.

The publication follows the release of the Spanish version of my book on Excel for journalists, Excel para periodistas, earlier this year.

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FAQ: 24 questions about data journalism

The latest in the FAQ series is a whopper: a PhD researcher from Iran asks 24 questions about data journalism. I’ve actually only shown 22 below. (Only).

What are the most common definitions of data journalism? What is your definition?

I had a stab at this in the introduction to The Data Journalism Handbook, and Tony Hirst has a good overview of three different ways of defining it.

More recently, here’s a definition from the forthcoming second edition of my Online Journalism Handbook:

“Data journalism is, basically, any journalism that involves structured data. And when everything is online – from government spending and last month’s weather to music sales, fashion gossip, social network connections and sports performances – that basically means the world is your oyster.”

What are the different types of data journalism?

There are all sorts, from short simple pieces that only fill a few paragraphs to longform investigative pieces or interactive tools. It can relate to getting the data, analysing it, telling the story or making that interactive. Continue reading

Press officers to be given data to back up speeches – will journalists be able to interrogate it?

Full Fact report that the Department of Health is to give press officers data so they can field press enquiries about claims made in ministerial speeches:

“An internal ‘data document’ will provide press officers with links to sources for each factual claim made in a speech, as well as contact details for the official or analyst who provided the information.”

It’s an important move, and given that it comes in response to a body  (the UK Statistics Authority) which has also rebuked other arms of government for misusing stats, you might expect other departments to follow.

Of course, it relies on journalists being aware that this exists, being willing to ask for the data, and able to interrogate it (or its author). Another on the list for the case for data literacy.

Comparison chart between Glasgow and national average

How Scotland made its council audit data less open (with happy ending)

Once upon a time Audit Scotland published performance data for every council in Scotland. The approach was simple: a spreadsheet for every council with dozens of indicators across several pages.

audit scotland data

Audit Scotland data from 2012/13

As far as open data goes it wasn’t ideal: comparing councils involved manually downloading spreadsheets and combining them, unless you wrote a scraper to do that for you. Which is what I did last year while working with the Sunday Post on a series of stories.

But at least you had the data in some sort of raw format.

If you look for the data this year, however, you will find things a little more complicated:

“The local government community now produce council performance information through the Local Government Benchmarking Framework.”

Now there’s a middleman. And here things start to go downhill (before a happy ending). Continue reading

Tips from Andrzej Marczewski for journalists interested in gamification and news games

Andrzej Marczewski

Andrzej Marczewski

Are journalists confusing gamification with serious games? Andrzej Marczewski, an expert and thought-leader in the field, tells Alex Iacovangelo that he thinks that journalists should first learn the difference.

I spend a lot of time splitting the definitions up. Gamification gets a bad name because people think that it is a catch-all for any attempt at non-entertainment related use of games or game mechanics.

“Really, it is just about using game elements in non-games – not making them. Serious games are different.”

Continue reading

The BBC’s new statistics role has ended after 18 months. Here’s what the person in that role did

At the end of July this year the BBC ended a quiet experiment that had been going on for the last 18 months: a Head of Statistics role funded initially by the corporation’s innovation fund and then by election coverage money.

Anthony Reuben was the person occupying that role. A business reporter with almost two decades’ experience at the BBC, Reuters, Sky, the Money Channel and the FT, he was helping to design a new statistics course for the BBC College of Journalism when the need for a new role became clear.

“We got to the last slide, which was where to turn for more help. There were plenty of people outside the BBC, but nobody in it who had the time or skills to help with statistical questions. So we applied for a year’s funding from the Innovation Fund.”

What the head of statistics role involved

Once in the role Reuben would sit with the planning team and attend some of the daily news and planning meetings to anticipate big stories which might “set off alarm bells”. Continue reading

A crowdfunded contributor on why the death of Contributoria was sudden but not unexpected

contributoria logo

In a post originally published on his blog theplan, Contributoria contributor Jon Hickman explains why he wasn’t surprised by the closure of the site

The journalism project Contributoria has announced that it has published its last issue this month. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the site would close, but the pace of the closure did catch me off guard.

I’ve written for the site several times as I was interested in the mechanics of its crowdfunding model.

Contributoria was both a crowdfunding platform and a web and print magazine. Articles were commissioned based on the distribution of ‘points’ by Contributoria members, and those members could engage with writers during the drafting of articles. Continue reading