Articles about "Data-driven journalism"


NYT launches ‘The Upshot,’ its data-driven news-explainer thing

The New York Times Company | The Upshot

The Upshot, a new data-driven New York Times publication, launched Tuesday. It aims to help readers “better navigate the news,” the Times says in a press release. The site “will focus on politics, policy and economics, with a particular emphasis on the 2014 elections, the state of the economy, economic mobility and health care.”

Its staff believes “many people don’t understand the news as well as they would like,” Upshot Editor David Leonhardt writes in a welcome note, and those people would like to be able to “explain the whys and hows of those stories to their friends, relatives and colleagues.”

The Upshot will rely on data to “illuminate and explain the news,” Leonhardt writes, and its first-day stories include a model that projects Democrats’ chances to keep control of the U.S. Senate and another that says the United States’ middle class is now less wealthy than Canada’s.

The Upshot joins a suddenly bustling market of publications that hope to bring context to the news, including Vox (“explaining the news“) and FiveThirtyEight (“we hope to contribute to your understanding of the news in a variety of ways“).

Previously: NYT names new D.C. bureau chief, plans two ‘newsroom start ups’ | NYT’s Leonhardt: The Upshot staff will ‘serve as navigators for the news’ Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
ShakeMap_U.S. Geological Survey

L.A. Times reporter talks about his story-writing ‘Quakebot’

Ken Schwencke’s early story about the earthquake that affected Los Angeles Monday morning bears an unusual note:

This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.

Reached by phone, Schwencke said he began working on the algorithm, which he calls Quakebot, after the 2011 earthquake in Japan. “Living in a seismically active place ourselves, I started playing with using the USGS data feeds,” he said. The U.S. Geological Survey has a “wonderful data notification service which sends out emails,” Schwenke said. Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
surveys_depositphotossmallest

Beware sloppiness when reporting on surveys

There is an old saying that figures don’t lie but liars figure. That’s a good thing to keep in mind when examining how some companies market the results of surveys.

OK, perhaps lying is too strong a term, but I’ve seen too many press releases that promote the results of a survey but don’t tell the entire story, and surveys whose methodology — including the questions asked and how the sample was derived — simply doesn’t pass muster. Unfortunately, all too often journalists and bloggers pick up on these press releases without critically examining the methodology or digging further to make sure that the actual data confirms the headlines.

In many cases, when a company or research organization announces the results of a survey, the press release provides a brief summary of the survey but not much detail beyond that. Before I write about a survey, I ask to see the underlying report. It should include a summary of the methodology, including how the sample was derived, the actual questions asked, and how they were answered. Sometimes, after examining that report, it’s clear to me that the methodology was flawed or the summary isn’t fully supported by the underlying data. Read more

Tools:
3 Comments
Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.38.28 PM

PoynterVision: how journalists can work with coders on projects

Understanding enough code for journalists to communicate with developers still isn’t enough, says Robert Hernandez, digital journalism professor at USC Annenberg and Poynter adjunct faculty. Watch the video to see what Hernandez recommends to help journalists work successfully with developers on data projects.


// Read more

Tools:
2 Comments
circa2

At Circa, it’s not about ‘chunkifying’ news but adding structure

You sometimes hear what we do at Circa described as “chunkifying” — taking the news and presenting it in mobile-friendly chunks. And while on the surface this observation is correct, it misses the bigger picture.

Yes, each “point” of Circa is a single unit of news — something designated as a fact, quote, statistic, event or image. We thread these points together to tell stories. The end result is succinct and allows us to track which points a reader has consumed, powering our unique “follow” feature.

But I often respond to talk of chunkifying by pointing out that what we’re really doing at Circa is adding structure to information — and it could be the most powerful thing we do. Indeed, there’s an increasing amount of discussion around “atoms” of news. But the interesting thing about those atoms of news isn’t that they’re short — that’s another surface observation. The interesting thing is how those atoms combine.

The assumed output of a reporter is the “article.” That’s what reporters are supposed to produce during their work day, and it’s the default unit by which journalists organize their data. There’s plenty of information in the text that’s produced, but how much of that information is structured? In a typical content management system (CMS) you’ll find a headline field, a main text field, information about the article’s creator, a date of its creation and maybe a field for some meta-tags — usually basic nouns — included as an afterthought, often for SEO purposes.

If I just described 90 percent of the CMSes you’ve used, read on.

The value of journalism comes from filtering things out of the flow of information and serving them up to readers. But those basic fields in the CMS fail to capture a lot of the value of information invested in the reporting process. If you asked a reporter about the information in an article you’d get specifics: It contains a quote from the mayor, some statistics about government spending, the announcement of a new zoning permit, a description of a local event, and so on. But that information is adrift inside the main unit of the article — without structure it’s lost, except for the ability to search for a string of words in Google.

At Circa we do things differently. The process of creating a story requires the writer to tag information in a structured way. If we insert a quote, we have two extra fields for the name of the person quoted and an alias — their working title. As a result, I can ask our chief technology officer to search our database for all the quotes we have from, say, Eric Holder. I can also ask to have that search refined by date(s) or topics: “Give me all the Eric Holder quotes from the last six months that are associated with the IRS. Also, I’d like all the aliases we’ve used for him.”

In a newsroom where data is unstructured this task would be incredibly time-consuming if not impossible. But because our content is structured, at Circa it’s simply a matter of asking.

The CMS or platform that a news organization uses to create content isn’t neutral. Decisions made in building or configuring that CMS define the way news is displayed later. If an input field for the “location” of an event doesn’t exist, then the only way to surface all events that took place at a specific location is to conduct a painstaking search through the blobs of words that exist in the main content field of articles.

Modern journalists are actually more familiar with the idea of structured data than they may realize. Part of the beauty and charm of the Pulitzer-winning PolitiFact is their Truth-O-Meter. The Truth-O-Meter is a way that PolitiFact structures data: Every “article” is tagged at some level, and if I want to find all the “Pants on Fire” stories, here they are. That’s not an accident: PolitiFact decided to build that into their CMS, into the very DNA of what they do. (You can also query by speakers and subjects.)

The job of a reporter is to collect, filter, organize and then deliver information. Shouldn’t a CMS capture the level of detail that we invest in that process from the start? Why do we always invoke the idea of narrative structure over structured data?

Here’s something Ezra Klein wrote in discussing his move to his new venture at Vox: “The software newsrooms have adopted in the digital age has too often reinforced a workflow built around the old medium. We’ve made the news faster, more beautiful, and more accessible. But in doing we’ve carried the constraints of an old technology over to a new one.” As Steve Buttry leads “Project Unbolt,” I suspect one of the barriers Digital First Media will need to confront is that their CMS is designed to produce articles, an increasingly arcane manner of structuring information.

Data-driven journalism is, of course, a growing movement. The best-understood example of data-driven journalism is the crime map: we collect the location/type of crimes and then overlay that information on a map. Because there’s structure to the information, we can surface greater meaning from it.

The question, however, is if we can expand this concept beyond the low-hanging data sets. At Circa we’re trying to answer that question, starting with the realization that we’re dealing with data all the time — we only need to organize it.

David Cohn is director of news at Circa and a member of Poynter’s adjunct faculty. Previously he worked on some of the first endeavors exploring crowdsourcing and crowdfunding in journalism. You can find him on Twitter at @digidave. Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
FJ_small

PoynterVision: For Journalism teaches journos to code

Dave Stanton introduces For Journalism, a platform aiming to equip journalists with technical skills to succeed in data journalism jobs.

Stanton, ringleader of the Kickstarter-backed project, and a stellar team of working journalists including those from NPR, ProPublica and the Associated Press have created courses with screencasts, code repositories and discussion forums targeted at mid-career journalists, students and professors. Participants work on real-world projects that can be implemented immediately in the newsroom.


//

Related: Live chat on what students need to know about code and data viz | PoynterVision: Create a data résumé | Live chat on how journalists can learn to code — and why it’s important Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
Chicago Migrahack

Migrahack brings together journalists, programmers and community

Chicago Migrahack

Immigration stories usually have numbers. But immigration numbers have stories of their own. Many journalists work with these numbers — they gather them, use them and report them. But while the numbers get told, the stories behind them often don’t.

“Most of the time we just report the numbers, but we don’t interview the numbers,” Migrahack creator Claudia Nunez said in a phone interview. “They have a lot of information for us.”

Migrahack is an effort to teach journalists to take those numbers and find the stories inside. Usually, journalists cite a statistic and drill down to an individual story, said Lauren Pabst, a program officer with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, by phone. (The MacArthur Foundation has supported Migrahack with a $100,000 grant.) But data and how you compare it can say different things. Migrahacks give participants tools and skills to think deeply about the numbers they’re using, Pabst said, and interrogate those numbers to see what’s really happening. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
Chat

What students need to know about code and data viz

A stunning amount of data is available to journalists these days, and it is growing exponentially. Not surprisingly, the need for data journalists is expanding as well.

Data-driven journalism is a diverse field that involves interpreting data, developing programming code, and creating databases, maps, charts and other visualizations. Some of the skills required take considerable study. But we often overlook the complexity of data journalism and leave our young journalists without the knowledge they need to succeed.

What should students know about code and data visualizations? What skills should be taught to best prepare them for jobs in data-driven journalism?

Northwestern University Medill School professor Jeremy Gilbert, University of Southern California Annenberg School professor Robert Hernandez, ringleader of For Journalism Dave Stanton and I got together to discuss the tremendous possibilities at the intersection of data, technology and news. Our live chat focused on what educators need to teach and students should learn to succeed in computational journalism.

Replay this chat to see the resources we all shared. Find our archives at www.poynter.org/chats.

To ask a question, please use the comment box below.
Read more

Tools:
4 Comments
Matt Waite2

PoynterVision: Create a data résumé

More important than a résumé is a strong digital presence to land a job in data journalism, be it interactive news, data visualizations or news applications. Matt Waite, journalism professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, offers insight into what you need to score the data-driven journalism job.

Watch Waite’s NewsU on-demand webinar replay, Drones for Reporting and Newsgathering: The Promise and the Peril, for free with this discount code:
13POYNTER100WAITE. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
Matt Waite talks about the value of data skills in hiring.

PoynterVision: Newsrooms fight for data talent

While layoffs continue to deplete traditional newsrooms, reporters with skills in data journalism are being snatched up by news organizations, Matt Waite, journalism professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told Poynter. In fact, news outlets have new competitors vying for the same talent.

Use the code 13POYNTER100WAITE to watch a free on-demand replay of Waite’s NewsU webinar, Drones for Reporting and Newsgathering: The Promise and the Peril.


// Read more

Tools:
1 Comment