The Art and Science of Data-Driven Journalism

All Organizations - Great and Small

When I interviewed the founding editor of the Guardian Datablog, Simon Rogers, he praised the work of institutions and the work of several practitioners. (While Rogers is now Twitter’s first data editor,145journalism.146amazing thing, scraping all public data at the moment,” he said. “A lot of data journalism has to be about giving data to people and making it accessible.”Rogers also pointed to the work of James Cheshire,147on the Bombsight project, and the use of geodata by the Oxford Internet Institute.148journalism can be committed by much more than traditional media organizations. It was particularly instructive to learn more about the work of large media organizations, like the Los Angeles Times and Canada’s Global News, which have been building their capacity to practice data journalism. “As part of large broadcast organizations, one thing that is very satisfying about data journalism is that it often puts our digital staff in the driver’s seat”what starts as an online investigation often becomes the basis for original and exclusive broadcast content,” wrote Keith Robinson, the senior producer for specials and interactive at Global News in Canada, in an email.Robinson highlighted several examples of its Data Desk’s work,149from mapping and visualizing Canada’s census data to investigating water main breaks in Toronto and the ways they’re being addressed.It’s not just big-city newsrooms or stations that can afford teams of programmers and designers; these aren’t the only players. Important, sophisticated data-driven journalism is also possible with smaller teams on tight deadlines. To put it another way, acts of data journalism by small teams or individuals aren’t just plausible or possible, they’re happening”from Italy to Chile to Brazil to Africa. That doesn’t mean that the news application teams at NPR or newspaper companies aren’t setting the pace for data journalism when it comes to cutting-edge work”far from it, as this news app of tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma150demonstrates”but the tools and techniques to make something worthwhile are available to smaller organizations, even with tightened spending.