Category Archives: data journalism

How to: uncover Excel data only revealed by a drop-down menu

Sometimes an organisation will publish a spreadsheet where only a part of the full data is shown when you select from a drop-down menu. In order to get all the data, you’d have to manually select each option, and then copy the results into a new spreadsheet.

It’s not great.

In this post, I’ll explain some tricks for finding out exactly where the full data is hidden, and  how to extract it without getting Repetitive Strain Injury. Here goes…

The example

fire data dropdown

To get the data from this spreadsheet you have to select 51 different options from a dropdown menu

The spreadsheet I’m using here is pretty straightforward: it’s a list of the populations for each fire and rescue authority in the UK (XLS). These figures are essential for putting any story about fires into context (giving us a per capita figure rather than just whole numbers) — and yet the authority behind the spreadsheet has made it very difficult to extract those numbers. Continue reading

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“I tried to deal with numbers as professionally as I could. But behind them there were people, and I couldn’t run away from it” — Ferran Morales on visualising refugee data

In a guest post for OJB Maria Crosas interviews Ferran Morales, the journalist behind The Story of Zainab, to understand how he tackled the challenge of processing and visualising data about refugees.

ferran

Ferran Morales showing infographics from Zainab’ story

Ferran Morales is a data journalist and graphic designer at El Mundo Deportivo. In February, with the team at Media Lab Prado, he published The Story of Zainab, a data-driven narrative following an 11-year-old refugee and her family, that had to leave their home in 2011 because of the war in Syria.

The project was created as part of Visualizar 2017, a workshop for prototyping data visualisation projects, and drew on data on refugees.

Continue reading

On International Women’s Day here are 7 data journalism projects about women’s issues

Photo: Pixabay

Women represent 49.5% of the world’s population, but they do not have a corresponding public, political and social influence. In recent years, more and more women have raised their voices, making society aware of their challenges — data journalists included. To commemorate International Women’s Day, Carla Pedret presents a list of data journalism projects that detail the sacrifices, injustices and prejudices that women still have to face in the 21st century.

Continue reading

Building the first central database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime

Bombings in Barcelona in 1938

Bombings in Barcelona in 1938 (Image by Italian Airforce under CC)

In a guest post for OJB, Carla Pedret looks at a new data journalism project to catalogue what happened during the Spanish Civil War.

125,000 people died, disappeared or were repressed in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and during the Franco dictatorship, according to historians. Many of their families still do not know, 40 years later, what exactly happened to them.

Now the Innovation and Human Rights (IHR) association has created the first central database of casualties, missing persons and reprisals during the Spanish Civil War and under Francoism.

Continue reading

“Data matters — but people are still the best sources of stories”  —  insights from investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan

Peter Geoghegan

Peter Geoghegan

In a guest post Jane Haynes speaks to investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan of the award-winning news site The Ferret about data, contacts and “nosing up the trousers of power”.

When the Scottish Government announced last month that it was banning fracking, it was a moment to savour for a group of journalists from an independent news site in the heart of the country.

The team from investigative cooperative The Ferret had been the first news organisation to reveal plans by nine energy companies to bid for licences to extract shale gas from central Scotland.

Using a combination of contact-led information and FOI requests, they uncovered the extent of the ambitions to dig deep into Scottish soil.

Firms target more of central Scotland for fracking

It was part of a steady flow of fracking stories from the Ferret team, ensuring those involved in making decisions were in no doubt of their responsibilities and recognised that every step would be scrutinised. Continue reading

Data storytelling done right: 8 easy tips to avoid bad visualisation

tesselationIn a guest post for OJB, Steve Carufel interviews Dutch data journalist Thomas de Beus about visualisation, storytelling — and useful new tools for data journalists.

Data journalism is, among other things, the art of resisting the temptation to show spectacular visualisations that fail to highlight the data behind a story.

Insights and relevant statistics can get lost in visual translation, so Thomas de BeusColourful Facts is a great place to start thinking more about clarity and your audience — and less about spectacular graphic design (although you do not want to forego attractiveness entirely). Continue reading

Podcast: Data journalism: More important than ever?

data journalism podcast

I took part in a BBC Academy podcast about data journalism last week, along with The Guardian’s Helena Bengtsson and the BBC’s Daniel Wainwright and John Walton, in the wake of the BBC’s annual plan and three-year strategy which included a focus on the “interrogation of data”.

Among other things we talked about why data journalism is increasingly important, what skills are needed (including the role of code), why I’m launching an MA in Data Journalism, and what sorts of stories can be done with those skills.

If you want to listen, it’s now live on the Academy website.