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WSJ's Neil McIntosh on data journalism

"Data journalism is like sex at university - Everyone talks about it; few do it; fewer still do it well."Neil McIntosh
Neil McIntosh on data-driven journalism
In this video the Wall Street Journal Europe's Deputy Editor, and chair of our event yesterday talks about why data journalism is such a hot topic in UK media, and the new skills publishers need to acquire: "Data journalism draws on some of the traditions of quality journalism and heavy research, but adds a digital spin which journalists find exciting and readers are leaping on as well." Key points and examples of data-driven journalism
  • Kevin Anderson explained how computer-assisted reporting (CAR) dates back to the 60s in the US, and was used to great effect in Philip Meyer's analysis of the '67 Detroit Riots
  • Easier tools, the public data revolution and the growth of APIs are all driving an increasing focus on data journalism. As a starting point, he recommended looking at the free Data Journalism Handbook
  • The FT's Martin Stabe defined data journalism as 'bringing the methods of social science into journalism... not just making pretty pictures'.
  • He singled out the FT's interactive graphics, the WSJ's work on the corporate jet set: leisure vs business and for the highest flyers, new scrutiny as well as Honest John's recent MOT files report as good examples
  • The Honest John report, analysing data from all UK MOT tests dating back to 2006 is an example of information already in the public domain (in this case, obtained by the BBC in 2008-9 as 1,200 page PDF) but never reported on
  • He added that many other public datasets could be relevant to various audiences
  • Alex Graul explained the Guardian's open source Miso Project, which aims to give developers a toolkit to 'expedite the creation of interactive storytelling', but stressed to anyone looking for a simple 'visualise this' button that readers are getting good at picking up generic formats, which inevitably fall short of being really compelling. The project will be aimed at those with mid-level Javascript knowledge
  • Andrew Leimdorfer highlighted the BBC's work around the Eurozone crisis in graphics and a debt web, also its catalogue of every death on every road in GB 1999-2010 (BBC Interactives & Graphics Homepage
  • He emphasised the importance of reader feedback, and evolving graphics in response to make best use of data to help people understand the stories behind them - 'simplicity is key'
  • The BBC measures success on the basis of reach, quality, impact and value - its Euro debt web gets on average 12 clicks - with only 10 countries listed on the graphic
  • Along with other speakers, he mentioned the challenges around managing 'on-off' time - balancing resources between the big upcoming stories and breaking news
Members can download presentations from the event. Data Journalism Handbook Image by Jwyg

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