Tag Archives: uncertainty

“Systems would go offline for days just to delay the release of data” – Rodrigo Menegat on Covid-19 data journalism in Brazil

In a guest post for OJB, Rodrigo George Willoughby spoke to data journalist Rodrigo Menegat about reporting on Covid-19 in Brazil, managing uncertainty and how data journalism could help debunk misinformation.

At the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in March, data on the disease was in high demand. It required collaboration — something made more difficult with data lacking in quality.

Having spent most of his career covering politics, last year Rodrigo Menegat realised that science data — particularly Covid-19 data — was fast becoming a staple in the newsroom. 

“The first challenge was learning how to cover data which is very different to sport or politics,” he says.

The difficulty was understanding something that, as a country, Brazil was not ready to face. Continue reading

Coronavirus: 3 ways journalists need to get to grips with uncertainty during the pandemic

R number ranges in different UK regions

R number ranges shown by the FT

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

A new data journalism tool – and a new way of reporting uncertainty

guesstimate: how long it takes to get ready for preschool

On the last day of last year, web developer Ozzie Gooen launched his new project Guesstimate, a spreadsheet ‘for things that aren’t certain’.

It is an inspired idea: software plays a key role in shaping what we do, and we take spreadsheets’ certainty about numbers for granted. Why should we?

Throw in journalism’s default dislike of ambiguity and a political tendency to play to that… well, it can all make for some flawed reporting.

I was so impressed with Guesstimate and the opportunities it presents for a new style of data reporting that I sought out Gooen to find out more about the project and how he came to launch it. Continue reading