DataEdu 2.0Gov 2.0MobileProgrammingPublishingWeb 2.0Find us on:About Radar
The growing importance of data journalism
Parsing the progress of open government data requires newtools and reliable information sources.
byAlex Howard|@digiphile|Comments: 2| 21 December 2010
One of thethemes from News Foothat continues to resonate with me is the importance of data journalism. That skillset has received renewed attention this winter after Tim Berners-Lee calledanalyzing data the future of journalism.When you look atdata journalism and the big picture, as USA Today's Anthony DeBarros did athis blog in November, it's clear the recent suite of technologies is part of a continuum of technologically enhanced storytelling that traces back tocomputer-assisted reporting(CAR).As DeBarros pointed out, the message of CAR "was about finding stories and using simple tools todo it: spreadsheets, databases, maps, stats," like Microsoft Access, Excel,SPSS, and SQL Server.That's just as true today, even if data journalists now have powerful new tools for scraping datafrom the web with tools likeScraperWikiandNeedlebase, scripting withPerl, or Ruby,Python,
Understanding the history of computer-assisted reporting is key to putting new tools in the proper context. "We use these tools to find and tell stories," DeBarros wrote. "We use them like we use atelephone. The story is still the thing."The data journalism session at News Foo took place on the same daycivic developerswereparticipating in a globalopen data hackathonand the New York Times hosted itsTimes Open
Hack Day. Many developers at contests like these are interested in working withopen data, but
the conversation at News Foo showed how much further government entities need to go to deliver on the promiseopen data holds for the future of journalism.The issues that came up are significant. Government data is often "dirty," with missing metadataor incorrect fields. Journalists have to validate andclean up datasetswith tools like Google Refine.ProPublica'sRecovery Tracker for stimulus data and projects is one of the best examples of thepractice in action.A recent gold standard for data journalism is the Pulitzer-Prize winningToxic Watersproject fromthe New York Times. The scale of that project makes it a difficult act to follow, though Timesdevelopers are working hard with nifty projects likeInside Congress.You can see a visualization of the Toxic Waters project and other examples of data journalism inthis Ignite presentation from News Foo.
Making open government data sing
At ProPublica, the data journalism team is conscious of deep linking into news applications, withthe perspective that the visualizations produced from such apps are themselves a form of narrative journalism. With great data visualizations, readers can find their own way and interrogatethe data themselves. Moreover, distinctions between a news "story" and a news "app" aredissolving as readers increasingly consume media on mobile devices and tablets.One approach to providing useful context is the "Ion" format atProPublica.org, where a project like"Eye on the Stimulus" is a hybrid between a blog and an application. On one side of the web page,
MOST RECENTLY DISCUSSED
Strata Gems: DIY personal sensing and automationSteve Wozniak on the FCC and Internet freedomThe growing importance of data journalismStrata Gems: Turn MySQL into blazing fast NoSQLWhy web services should be released as free software
The Business of Data, February 1-3,2011 Santa Clara, CA
Archives by Month...Archives by Topic...Archives by Author...
HomeShopAnswersRadar: News & CommentarySafari Books OnlineConferencesTrainingSchool of Technology
Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies
22/12/2010he growing importance of data journ……oreilly.com/…/data-journalism.html1/3