Category Archives: faq

FAQ: Data journalism and computer science

basic_code

Where I started, with BASIC code. Image by Terry Freedman

I have a habit of posting replies to questions on OJB: this one is in response to a series of questions from a student at the University of the West of England about data journalism.

How do you feel about the intertwining of computer science with journalism?

Not surprisingly, I’m quite positive about it. I think most industries benefit from being exposed to different practices and ideas, as they make you reevaluate your own habits and assumptions.

That has very much been the case with the influence of computer science on journalism: in many ways data journalism is more open and more collaborative than other parts of journalism, and that has led to some of its best work.

For example, when organisations like Quartz, Vox or NY Public Radio open source their code, it makes it easier for other news organisations to innovate with that, and improve on it. Continue reading

Someone asked me about 2016 and 2017. This is what I said

Crystal ball image by Christian R. Hamacher

Crystal ball image by Christian R. Hamacher

Every year Nic Newman asks a bunch of people for their reflections on the last 12 months and their anticipations for the year ahead. Here’s what I’ve said this year — as always, to be taken with significant doses of salt. 

What surprised you most in 2016?

Perhaps the sheer number of significant developments (compare the posts for 2015 and 2014). It was the year when bots went mainstream very quickly, and platforms took further significant steps towards becoming regulated as publishers.

It was a year of renewed innovation in audio. 2016 saw the launch of a number of new audio apps, including Anchor, Pundit, Clyp and Bumpers.fm, as various companies attempted to be the ‘Facebook of audio’. The only problem: Facebook wants to be the Facebook of audio too: at the end of the year they introduced live audio. Continue reading

FAQ: Can print compete with online?

Another in the FAQ series, this one comes from a Bournemouth University student, and largely focuses on print’s future in the wake of the Independent newspaper going online only.

1. What have been the defining factors in the growth of online media? Is it mostly down to convenience, lowered costs or advancing technology?

It depends who you’re referring to and what you mean by ‘defining factors’ – defining in what ways?

For media organisations that existed before the web, it was both an opportunity to access new revenue streams, but more importantly defend against potential new competitors. Continue reading

2015 in review: you’re so retro

Snapchat's breaking news coverage

Snapchat’s breaking news coverage was one of the most significant developments of 2015

It’s that time again: Nic Newman‘s email has dropped asking various people to do some highly suspect future-gazing (at least I got WhatsApp and the election right last time). Here are my answers to his questions, delivered with suitable scepticism…

What surprised me most in 2015?

What surprised me most in 2015 is the enormous surge in ‘civic tech‘ around the election compared to 2010: coders collaborating to make apps and websites to help people make an informed decision on their vote. Continue reading

FAQ: How has working online changed how you write?

The latest post in the FAQ series (where someone has sent me questions and I republish it here) had 22 questions. This one just has two, and they’re all about writing online:

Q: Do you think that working online has allowed you to be more open and express your opinions more freely than through another medium (e.g. print)?

Absolutely, but I don’t think that’s to do with the medium so much as the institutional framework surrounding that. Continue reading

FAQ: 24 questions about data journalism

The latest in the FAQ series is a whopper: a PhD researcher from Iran asks 24 questions about data journalism. I’ve actually only shown 22 below. (Only).

What are the most common definitions of data journalism? What is your definition?

I had a stab at this in the introduction to The Data Journalism Handbook, and Tony Hirst has a good overview of three different ways of defining it.

More recently, here’s a definition from the forthcoming second edition of my Online Journalism Handbook:

“Data journalism is, basically, any journalism that involves structured data. And when everything is online – from government spending and last month’s weather to music sales, fashion gossip, social network connections and sports performances – that basically means the world is your oyster.”

What are the different types of data journalism?

There are all sorts, from short simple pieces that only fill a few paragraphs to longform investigative pieces or interactive tools. It can relate to getting the data, analysing it, telling the story or making that interactive. Continue reading