Advanced Online Media – Data JournalismPosted: February 17, 2012
We talked a bit in the lecture last week about data journalism, when Tom Hannen showed us his inforgraphic work for the BBC. I thought we'd look at it a bit more today. Datajournalism has a bit of a hot topic in online journalism circles for the last couple of years with lots of developers and journalists experimenting with different ways to find stories in data.
A good place to go for an introduction to the field is The Guardian's Datablog – The Guardian has been experimenting for a while now with making data available to people to use in various ways. Their best known efforts include their coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal and their ground-breaking experiment in crowd-sourcing investigative analysis and, obviously, Wikileaks.
A debate has been going on for a few years now, linked to the growing availability of data online, one that suggests that journalists need to be more than storytellers now, that they need to know how to work with data in different ways. A couple of years agi, the new media pundit Jeff Jarvis asked the question, 'Is Journalism Storytelling?' Adrian Monck tackled the same area around the same time, arguing that the future of journalism was maths, or rather 'presenting mathematised knowledge'. The story is now redundant, he suggests…
These are rather extreme positions – perhaps what Wikileaks shows is that data on its own isn't enough – that to reach a larger audience there needs to be some sort of story there, or narrative frame… Martin Moore has a good introduction to current thinking about the field – he argues that data journalism is about coping with information abundance and that it means lots of different things – it's not just about database programming.
If you want go deeper, Paul Bradshaw has published some excellent early drafts of a chapter from his book on online journalism, covering data and what to do with it – have a look at his general Data Journalism posts too. He also wrote a really useful intro for The Guardian. Jonthan Stray published a good list of links to further reader on data.
One thing you can do online is find new ways to present data… There's a growing interest in data visualisation, in mixing data, maps, charts and text to explore and communicate ideas and issues…If we get a chance, we'll talk about this, I hope.
We'll have a look at David McCandless' work in this area – his site has lots of great information and some brilliant interactives you can can play with (e.g Snake Oil?). We'll also look at his TED lecture.
And we might watch this: Alex Lundry's Chart Wars