Tag Archives: data journalism

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

41 key moments in the history of online journalism {now 45} – have I missed any?

July 7 bombings image

A key moment in recent journalism history: Adam Stacey’s image taken during the July 7 bombings

In the history chapter of the Online Journalism Handbook you will find a timeline of key events in web journalism. While working on the forthcoming second edition I recently revisited and updated the timeline. Below are the 41 key events I have settled on — but have I missed any? Let me know what you think. Continue reading

Civio and transparency in Spain: “We fight for public access to data”

Javier de la Vega

Javier de la Vega

Spanish citizens are now a step closer to understanding how power operates in the country, and how decisions affect them, thanks to the work of organisations like Civio fighting for transparency and access to public data. In October their work was recognised with the Gabriel Garcia Marquez award in innovative journalism for their investigations Medicamentalia. In a guest post for OJB, Nuria Riquelme Palazón spoke with Javier de la Vega, one of the members of Civio.

Access to public information, accountability and participatory democracy may have been a reality in many countries for some time — but in Spain they sounded like a utopia. Entrepreneur Jacobo Elosua and computer technician David Cabo decided that this had to change.

The pair used their savings to build an organisation with the intention of serving those active citizens who, like them, believed in transparency: Civio Foundation.

Taking inspiration from organisations like mySociety in the UK, Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile and the Sunlight Foundation in the USA, they began the long process in 2011. Continue reading

How the BBC England data unit scraped airport noise complaints

heathrow-noise-story

This news story used scraping to gather data on noise complaints

BBC England Data Unit’s Daniel Wainwright tried to explain basic web scraping at this year’s Data Journalism Conference but technical problems got in the way. This is what should have happened:

I’d wondered for a while why no-one who had talked about scraping at conferences had actually demonstrated the procedure. It seemed to me to be one of the most sought-after skills for any investigative journalist.

Then I tried to do so myself in an impromptu session at the first Data Journalism Conference in Birmingham (#DJUK16) and found out why: it’s not as easy as it’s supposed to look.

To anyone new to data journalism, a scraper is as close to magic as you get with a spreadsheet and no wand. Continue reading

Those Android Trump tweets: David Robinson on using text data to get an election scoop

Washington Post story tweet

Data scientist David Robinson was behind one of the most striking data stories of this US election season, when his analysis of Donald Trump tweets appeared to confirm that Trump was posting the angriest comments on that account (jointly managed by his campaign staff). Barbara Maseda spoke to Robinson about the story behind that text analysis and what comes next. 

It was August 9 when David Robinson published his analysis of Trump tweets on his blog. Robinson had used a series of libraries in the programming language R to collect, clean, process and visualise the data. The process took just 12 hours, from Saturday night through Tuesday morning.

In the following days, the piece would be re-posted and cited by multiple websites, including The Washington Post and Mashable. The original piece alone had hundreds of thousands of views in just a few days.

The result wasn’t just one election story, but one of the biggest indications yet of the potential of text analysis for journalists, with three takeaways in particular: Continue reading

I’m organising a data journalism conference – you should come

Data Journalism UK 2016In just over 4 weeks I’ll be holding a day of workshops and industry panels for aspiring and working data journalists across the UK. Want to come?

Data Journalism UK 2016, in Birmingham on November 22, will be focusing on the latest wave of regional data journalism projects, from the data journalists at Trinity Mirror and BBC Scotland to startups like Northern Ireland’s The Detail and winners of Google Digital News Initiative funding Talk About Local’s News Engine and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

I’m particularly pleased to have one of the most experienced data journalists in the country, Claire Miller, speaking too.

claire-miller

Claire Miller, author of the book Getting Started with Data Journalism

The event will mix industry speakers and experts with practical sessions: there’ll be drop-in sessions on getting started with data journalism, an information security ‘surgery’, and some speakers have been asked to focus on practical skills too.

On top of all that, attendees will have the opportunity to nominate skills they want to learn – we’ll put on workshops for the most popular topics!

You can sign up for the event here, and tell me what sessions you want covered on Twitter @paulbradshaw

The event is being jointly sponsored by the University of Stirling and Birmingham City University.

Crowdsourcing investigative journalism at Convoca: “Our aim is create a community network not just in Peru, but global”

convoca

After winning two prestigious data journalism awards since launching in 2015, the Peruvian medium Convoca has launched its first crowdsourcing campaign to build a global community around its investigations. Nuria Riquelme spoke to founder Aramis Castro about the project.

Convoca has become a reference point for data journalism in South America. With a team of around ten people including system engineers, computer technicians and journalists, led by Milagros Salazar, a professional with over 15 years journalistic experience, they have pioneered data journalism in Peru. Continue reading