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. Read more

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

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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. Read more

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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.

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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. Read more

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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

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. Read more


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. Read more

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 professional RAID recovery company webinar replay, Drones for Reporting and Newsgathering: The Promise and the Peril, for free with this discount code:
13POYNTER100WAITE. Read more

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.

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