Author Archives: Paul Bradshaw

FAQ: Do you think that an increase in algorithms is leading to a decline in human judgement?

recipe by Phillip Stewart

This algorithm has been quality tested. Image by Phillip Stewart

The latest in my series of FAQ posts follows on from the last one, in response to a question from an MA student at City University who posed the question “Do you think that an increase in algorithmic input is leading to a decline in human judgement?”. Here’s my response.

Does an increase in computation lead to a decline in human input?

Firstly, it’s important to emphasise that the vast majority of data journalism involves no algorithms or automation at all: it’s journalists making calculations, which historically they would have done manually.

You mention the possibility that “an increase in computation leads to a decline in human input”. An analogy would be to ask whether an increase in pencils leads to a decline in human input in art. Continue reading

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FAQ: Can data journalism improve the world?

The latest in my series of FAQ posts comes in response to questions from a number of MA students at City University who emailed to ask “Can data journalism improve the world?”. Here’s my response, along with some follow-up questions and answers.

Can data journalism improve the world?

I wouldn’t be involved in data journalism if I didn’t think it could improve the world! But more broadly, I think journalism as a whole improves the world, whether that’s data journalism or not. (In fact, the whole reason I got involved in data journalism was because I believed it had the biggest potential to help journalism – particularly investigative journalsm – and, by extension, improve the world.) Continue reading

This email newsletter is rounding up what’s happening in Brazilian digital media

moreno

A new email newsletter has been launched by Brazilian journalist and journalism lecturer Moreno Cruz Osório to provide a weekly roundup of key research, developments and stories in the media industry in the country — in English. Continue reading

Email overload: here are 6 approaches I’ve found useful for managing my inbox

Information overload image by James Marvin Phelps

Information overload image by James Marvin Phelps

It’s nothing new to say that email overload is one of the biggest problems we face in trying to organise our time. But let’s be more specific: there are, it seems to me, two core problems caused by email: firstly, reaching the end of a day and realising you’ve done nothing but respond to emails; and secondly, finding you are never relaxing because you are getting emails or email notifications on your phone.

I’ve tried various approaches to email management — and there is a whole literature of tips and guidance on the subject. Here are some of the techniques I’ve found work for me in solving the problems above (note: they may not work for everyone). Continue reading

I’ve got a new book out — it’s all about Mobile-First Journalism (the clue’s in the title)

Mobile-First Journalism book coverMy new book — Mobile-First Journalism, with Steve Hill — is published this week.

The book tackles various aspects of the new wave of mobile-centred publishing, from “mojo” techniques and creating mobile apps to native content and visual storytelling.

Along the way we also looked at the new critical issues raised by the shift, from strategic decisions involved in platform publishing, to fake news, trolling and verification.

It’s been a timely book — building on my experiences of designing the new MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University (with some of the first students’ work inspiring parts of the book) — and fun to write.

I’ll be posting extracts from the book in the coming months…

7 ideas for things to do over the summer while preparing to start a journalism course

rolls of yarn

Knitting yarn optional. image by Rachel

As the summer begins, I’ve been recommending some things that my incoming students might do in preparation for their MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism or MA in Data Journalism. I thought I’d share my advice here for anyone else starting a journalism course this Autumn… (oh, and these are just ideas — you don’t have to do all of these!)

1. Consume a *wide* range of journalism

When teaching journalism you notice quickly that the students who produce the most polished pieces of journalism are the ones who consume the most journalism. The more journalism that you read, watch, listen and use, the more journalistic conventions, techniques and tricks you absorb, and more instinctively reproduce. Continue reading

There’s more than one way to make an impact with data journalism (book extract)

FootPrint on Moon
In an extended extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Data Journalism Handbook, I look at the different types of impact that data journalism can have, and how can better think about it.

If you’ve not seen Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into institutional silence over child abuse, then you should watch it right now. More to the point — you should watch right through to the title cards right at the end.

In an epilogue to the film — this is a story about old-school-style data journalism, by the way — a list scrolls down the screen. It details the dozens and dozens of places where abuse scandals have been uncovered since the events of the film, from Akute, Nigeria, to Wollongong, Australia.

But the title cards also cause us to pause in our celebrations: one of the key figures involved in the scandal, it says, was reassigned to “one of the highest ranking Roman Catholic churches in the world.”

This is the challenge of impact in data journalism: is raising awareness of a problem “impact”? A mass audience, a feature film? Does the story have to result in penalties for those responsible for bad things? Or visible policy change? Is all impact good impact? Continue reading