Tag Archives: david higgerson

There’s more than one way to make an impact with data journalism (book extract)

FootPrint on Moon
In an extended extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Data Journalism Handbook, I look at the different types of impact that data journalism can have, and how can better think about it.

If you’ve not seen Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into institutional silence over child abuse, then you should watch it right now. More to the point — you should watch right through to the title cards right at the end.

In an epilogue to the film — this is a story about old-school-style data journalism, by the way — a list scrolls down the screen. It details the dozens and dozens of places where abuse scandals have been uncovered since the events of the film, from Akute, Nigeria, to Wollongong, Australia.

But the title cards also cause us to pause in our celebrations: one of the key figures involved in the scandal, it says, was reassigned to “one of the highest ranking Roman Catholic churches in the world.”

This is the challenge of impact in data journalism: is raising awareness of a problem “impact”? A mass audience, a feature film? Does the story have to result in penalties for those responsible for bad things? Or visible policy change? Is all impact good impact? Continue reading

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A simple hyperlocal experiment which shows how publishers can engage with different audiences

liveblog engagement

Civic engagement? Most readers spent more than 30 minutes on the liveblog

On Monday I was involved in a fascinating experiment in civic engagement: 10 hyperlocal blogs all agreed to embed a liveblog of a hustings which would give inhabitants of the largest local authority in Europe an insight into the next council leader.

The liveblog itself was to be maintained by student contributors to the Birmingham Eastside news site. The decision to offer it out to hyperlocal sites across the city seemed obvious – so why aren’t publishers doing this regularly? Continue reading

The slow drain of accountability in watchdog reporting

David Higgerson writes about some depressing recent developments – and equally depressing wider trends – around the lack of transparency in public office and public spending. It’s worth reading:

“The reason this is so important now is because we are on the cusp of another wave of political restructuring. Devolution is on its way to Greater Manchester, and to other major city regions too. Whether you believe this is a good thing or not, there is hopefully no denying that with such major power moves there has to also be a cast-iron guarantee that those making decisions will be accountable.”

And here’s the background:

Notes on setting up a regional newspaper datablog

Behind the Numbers - Birmingham's regional datablog

I’ve been working recently with the Birmingham Mail to launch Behind The Numbersa new datablog project with Birmingham City University supported by Help Me Investigate. I’m told that it is probably the UK’s first regional newspaper datablog, although whether that’s a meaningful claim is debatable*.

The first story generated by the project – what is the worst time to be seen at A&E – was published in the newspaper a week ago. But it’s what happens next that’s going to be interesting. Continue reading

Local and national government open up data – starting now

Yesterday saw the publication of an incredible letter by David Cameron to government departments, including local government. It sets out a whole range of areas where data is to be released – some of it scheduled for January 2011, but some of it straight away.

You can find my thoughts about the release in this article by Laura Oliver, along with those of the likes of David Higgerson. This is probably as important an event as the passing of the FOI Act – it is more important than the launch of data.gov.uk. Note it.