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.
It’s easier than ever to follow individuals inside the industry, too – on Twitter as well as professional blogs, Medium.com and anywhere else. I maintain Twitter lists of people reporting in particular fields or in particular roles, for example, and generate Nuzzel newsletters for those lists so I’m up to date with what they’re sharing. Continue reading →
Bárbara Maseda has dedicated the last four years to publishing data where none exists. “In Cuba we use investigative journalism tools to search for information that elsewhere in the world would be in a press release,” she says. Other journalists’ data problems, such as receiving data in formats that are difficult to analyse, “are my highest aspirations”.
This is what you’ll look like after reading all of these books… (“Study of a Man Reading” by Alphonse Legros)
This latest in the frequently asked questions series is an answer to an aspiring data journalism student who asks “Would you be able to direct me to any resources or text books that might help [prepare]?” Here are some recommendations I give to students on my MA in Data Journalism…
Books on data journalism as a profession
Data journalism isn’t just the application of a practical skill, but a profession with a culture, a history, and non-technical practices.
We needed to be able to take a collection of words such as “11 years and 5 months’ imprisonment” and convert that into something that could be used in spreadsheet calculations (specifically, comparing the lengths of time represented by two different phrases).