Author Archives: paulbradshawuk

This is where data journalists get their ideas from (story cards)

I’ve written a piece for DataJournalism.com on the range of ways that data journalists get ideas for stories, from new data releases, tip-offs and exclusive leaks to simple questions, or taking an existing story as a template for a new one.

The piece also looks at how news events also provide the impetus for some “follow-on” story ideas, and the role that ‘play’ has in generating more creative (but also typically more complex) story ideas.

As part of the process I also created a series of cards, available as a printable PDF, which you can use to prompt these ideas in a classroom or editorial brainstorming situation. Please let me know if you find them useful!

VIDEO: Genre and structure in factual storytelling

In a fifth video post on narrative concepts* I build on some of the ideas about structure in the third post, exploring Freytag’s Pyramid and the kabob as narrative devices for structuring longer stories — and the role of genre in learning how to write in a new format.

In particular, I look at the interview format and different generic techniques such as headline styles and standfirsts — and I look at immersive longform stories and the new genre of scrollytelling.

The video was made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University. A series of video posts from my teaching can be found at this link.

*The other videos are:

  1. How narrative concepts can help journalists
  2. Elements of narrative for factual storytellers
  3. How narrative structures can help you write quicker, and better
  4. More factual storytelling techniques: time, narration, and “show, don’t tell”

VIDEO: More factual storytelling techniques: time, narration, and “show, don’t tell”

In a fourth video post on narrative concepts* I look at the different ways temporality can be used in factual storytelling, different choices that can be made about the narrator, and the principle of showing rather than telling.

The video was made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University. Links mentioned in the video include:

A series of video posts from my teaching can be found at this link.

*The other videos are:

  1. How narrative concepts can help journalists
  2. Elements of narrative for factual storytellers
  3. How narrative structures can help you write quicker, and better

VIDEO: How narrative structures can help you write quicker, and better

In the latest video post on narrative concepts (you can see the previous two here), this video looks at narrative structure — in particular, how Cortazzi‘s typical narrative structure can help us identify common patterns across different journalistic formats, from the inverted pyramid to the WSJ feature formula.

Being able to identify these structures means we can adapt more quickly to new formats — including those on new platforms.

The video also touches on the use of temporality in storytelling, and how stories might jump back and forth in time to keep readers engaged.

The video was made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University. The series of video posts can be found at this link.

VIDEO: Elements of narrative for factual storytellers

Building on last week’s video post on narrative concepts, this latest video explores how journalists can think about different elements of narrative and their role in our stories — from Mieke Bal’s fabula, stories and texts, to considering character and settings, and how both can be used to create movement to engage the audience.

The video was made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University. A couple of other videos are mentioned in it: firstly, this Twitter video story made using Apple Clips; and secondly, Ira Glass’s advice on storytelling, embedded below.

A series of video posts from my teaching can be found at this link.

VIDEO: How narrative concepts can help journalists

Having a critical awareness of narrative concepts and techniques can help journalists report in a more engaging — and a more ethical — way.

In the video below, made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University, I talk about what research tells us about narrative’s impact on audiences of news, how concepts like the ‘Law of narrative gravity‘ can make us more aware of potential negative impacts, and how using concepts like genre and audience can help when adapting to new platforms.

This video was first made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism and the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University and is shared as part of a series of video posts.

VIDEO PLAYLIST: Finding stories in company accounts

Company accounts can be a goldmine of story leads — from “following the money” and uncovering complex webs of relationships, to simply reporting concerns and individual payments.

I’ve put together a playlist of videos covering a number of different techniques you can use to find stories. Those are:

  1. What stories can be found in company accounts
  2. How to find stories in the text section at the front of company accounts
  3. Finding stories in the cash flow statement
  4. Using accounts to find stories about relationships and potential conflicts of interest
  5. Tools and tips for journalists using company accounts
  6. Finding stories about tax, pay, debt and other leads

The entire playlist is embedded below.

You can also read my posts on teaching journalists how to find stories in company accounts; how one journalist used these techniques to tell a story about a social media platform for sex workers; and tips from a story about a fashion charity.

You can find resources related to the video in this GitHub repo including examples of accounts and links to stories using these techniques.

The video was first made for students on the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University and is shared here as part of a series of video posts.

How CORRECTIV launched a live sanctions tracker in under a week

German investigative non-profit CORRECTIV launched its sanctions tracker less than a week after the invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with OJB, Olaya Argüeso Perez talks about the background to the project, how it’s been used — and what they’ve learned since.

“It was my co-editor-in-chief Justus von Daniels who had the idea”

“We were discussing how to address the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a non-daily investigative outlet,” Olaya says. “And very soon we realized that the sanctions were going to play key role as the main and maybe only Western tool against Russia and its allies.”

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VIDEO: Computational thinking in data journalism

I’ve written previously about the importance of computational thinking as a technique in data journalism, as well as some examples of that.

In this video — first made for students on the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University and shared as part of a series of video posts — I explain what computational thinking is and how it can improve your ability to work with data as a journalist, with some exercises and examples that help you exercise your own computational thinking.

Links mentioned in the video include Adrian Holovaty’s post A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change; Politifact; and How BuzzFeed News Used Betting Data To Investigate Match-Fixing In Tennis;

Computational thinking challenges can be found here.

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Video plays 4 roles online — here’s a video all about that

When making video for the web there are four broad roles that it is likely to play: it might illustrate a story; add to it; distil the story; or tell it.

In the video below, made for students on the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University, I talk through examples of each type of video, as well as some tips on considering variety of shots, and sequence. You can find links to the examples below.

Videos mentioned:

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