Economist and podcaster Tim Harford, author of How To Make The World Add Up, spoke to MA Data Journalism students this month. In a guest post for OJB Niels de Hoog rounds up Tim’s tips on creating compelling number-driven stories for radio and podcasts
Orson Welles famously said that there’s nothing an audience won’t understand, as long as you can get them to be interested.
Listening to Tim Harford’s podcasts it is clear that he has taken this message to heart.
“If you’ve got a hook, a personality, or a question people want answered, that will carry people through a certain degree of complexity that they wouldn’t tolerate if it was reported straight.”
Take More or Less, his podcast about statistics for BBC Radio 4. At first glance it doesn’t offer the easiest subject for an engaging audio story — yet somehow the programme is very entertaining to listen to. Continue reading →
Cruza Grafos (registration required) is an online visual interface where journalists can research political candidates, and relate candidates to companies and entities with an official registration number in Brazil.
The tool allows journalists to work with huge datasets without any coding.
According to Reinaldo Chaves, Abraji’s project coordinator, many journalists do not know how to code or even how to open a spreadsheet — a situation that makes some investigative projects impossible to happen.
“We hope the Cruza Grafos makes this kind of investigation easier and democratizes access to huge datasets.”
Yesterday I wrote the first of a two-part series on the 7 angles that are used to tell stories about data. In this second part I finish the list with a look at the three less common angles: those stories focusing on relationships; angles that focus on the data itself — its absence, poor quality, or existence — and exploratory stories that often provide an opportunity to get to the grips with the data itself.
Data angle 5. ‘Explore’: tools, interactivity — and art
Exploratory angles are largely web-native. Its selling point is often characterised by a ‘call to action’ like “explore”, “play” or “Take the quiz”. Alternatively, it might sell the comprehensiveness of the analysis in the way that it is “Mapped” or documents “Every X that ever happened”, or simply answers the question “Who/how/where”. Continue reading →
In my data journalism teaching and training I often talk about common types of stories that can be found in datasets — so I thought I would take 100 pieces of data journalism and analyse them to see if it was possible to identify how often each of those story angles is used.
I found that there are actually broadly seven core data story angles. Many incorporate other angles as secondary dimensions in the storytelling (a change story might go on to talk about the scale of something, for example), but all the data journalism stories I looked at took one of these as its lead.
In the first of a two-part series I walk through how the four most common angles can help you identify story ideas, the variety of their execution, and the considerations to bear in mind. Continue reading →
Channel 4’s Who Knows Who project was an early adopter of network analysis
Network analysis offers enormous potential for journalism: able to tease out controversial connections and curious clusters, and to make visible that which we could not otherwise see, it’s also often about relationships and power.
It is both a data journalism technique and an open source intelligence (OSINT) technique — and yet it is relatively underused in both, most likely because the tools to do network analysis have only become accessible in the last few years.
Here, then, is an introduction for journalists, adapted from my lectures on the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University.
How network analysis is used in journalism
Network analysis is, simply, a way of makingrelationships between entities visible.
It might be used in journalism to generate or check leads (by showing unusual patterns), to communicate the story itself (i.e. to show those patterns to others) or to allow readers to explore a system. Continue reading →
Journalism doesn’t like uncertainty: editors are trained to cut out vagueness and journalists taught to be as concrete as possible in their reporting. In most cases it compels reporters to ensure they have a firm grip on the details and are confident in the story they are reporting.
But with coronavirus, this discipline becomes a systemic blind spot.
From prevalence to testing, and from deaths to infection rates, the story of this pandemic is full of uncertainty. Here, then, are 3 ways that journalists need to understand — and better communicate — the things that we don’t know, and won’t know, about it. Continue reading →
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.