For the last few years I’ve been teaching my journalism students a dedicated class on cognitive bias — common ways of thinking that lead journalists (and audiences and sources) to make avoidable mistakes.
Some cognitive biases — such as groupthink, prejudice, and confirmation bias — are well-known, but many others are not (there are over 180 of them). That includes bias blind spot: the tendency to see how biases affect other people, but not yourself.
So if you were thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”, read on for a guide to some of the cognitive biases likely to affect journalists — from being manipulated by sources to being bad editors of our own copy — and what to do to tackle them. Continue reading →
By starting from one person you can start to identify the different parts of the systems that affect your topic — and useful story leads and ideas
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been helping students on my MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and MA in Data Journalism come up with story ideas for specialist reporting and investigations. Part of the process involves an exercise around scoping out a particular subject or system you are interested in — for example, the housing system, or ‘dark kitchens’, the Oscars, or air pollution — and identifying the gaps in your knowledge that can lead to stories.
It’s an exercise where empathy plays a central role.
It’s a common misconception of data journalism that the resulting stories will be all about numbers. In fact, the data is often just a stepping stone — it might take you to interviews, or help you find case studies; it might give you the spark for a feature idea without a single number.
Data journalists are being invited to enter a new data journalism award, launched to “celebrate the best data journalism around the world [and] to empower, elevate and enlighten the global community of data journalists.”
The Sigma Awards were created by Aron Pilhofer and Reginald Chua, with support from Marianne Bouchart and Google’s Simon Rogers. Bouchart managed the Data Journalism Awards organised by the Global Editors Network, which closed last year.
There are nine awards across six categories:
Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)
Best visualisation (small and large newsrooms)
Innovation (small and large newsrooms)
Open data; and
Best news application
Aside from a trophy, up to two people from each winning project will receive an all-expenses-covered trip to the International Journalism Festival in Perugia on 1–5 April 2020 where the awards will be celebrated.
The organisers hope that winners will “participate in and lead data journalism panels, discussions and workshops” at the festival.
Entries to the competition are open until 3 February 2020 at 11:59 pm ET via an online form.