Tag Archives: computational thinking

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.

Continue reading

FAQ: What are the essential computational skills that a journalist should develop?

Blue skyscrapers

Recognising patterns is a key skill in computational journalism (image by Stanley Zimny)

This latest group of frequently asked questions comes from an interview with Source, published here in full just in case it’s — you know — useful or something…

1. What are the essential computational skills that a journalist should develop?

Firstly, an ability to recognise patterns, or structured information. Spreadsheets are explicitly ‘data’ but some of the most interesting applications of computational journalism are where someone has seen data where others don’t.

Continue reading

(More than) 4 examples of computational thinking in journalism

Tennis balls hitting journalist

Computational thinking helps you break down a problem and solve each part logically. Image from BuzzFeed Tennis investigation

Today I will be introducing my MA Data Journalism students to computational thinking techniques (you can read my post about why that’s important here). As part of my preparations I’ve been collecting some of my favourite examples of computational thinking being used to spot and execute data journalism stories – and I’m sharing them here…

Story 1: Which singer has the biggest vocal range?

Which singer has the best vocal range in the UK No it s not who you think Mirror OnlineThis story, published in the UK tabloid newspaper The Mirror, is a great example of understanding how a computer might ‘see’ information and be able to help you extract a story from it. Continue reading

Computational thinking and the next wave of data journalism

In this second extract from a forthcoming book chapter I look at the role that computational thinking is likely to play in the next wave of data journalism — and the need to problematise that. You can read the first part of this series here.

Computational thinking is the process of logical problem solving that allows us to break down challenges into manageable chunks. It is ‘computational’ not only because it is logical in the same way that a computer is, but also because this allows us to turn to computer power to solve it.

As Jeannette M. Wing puts it:

“To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Just as the printing press facilitated the spread of the three Rs, what is appropriately incestuous about this vision is that computing and computers facilitate the spread of computational thinking.”

This process is at the heart of a data journalist’s work: it is what allows the data journalist to solve the problems that make up so much of modern journalism, and to be able to do so with the speed and accuracy that news processes demand. Continue reading