A PhD Researcher From Iran Asks 24 Questions About Data Journalism -Pınar Dağ

General Questions – Data Journalism Around The World

What are the most common definitions of data journalism? What is your definition?

The most common one would be that it is simply journalism written by referencing statistics and numbers to inform readers.

My definition in my recent Turkish Data Journalism e-book is ‘using any kind of data for journalistic purpose’. I also agree with the recent article by Nicolas Kayser-Bril who has stated that data journalism refers to ‘Journalism with structured data’.

Kayser- Bril says, ‘The specificity of data journalism is to do journalism with structured data. The structure of the data, in this sense, means the ability for a computer to process it in chunks. To overly simplify things, think of structured data as an Excel table whereas unstructured data is a piece of text.”

The Data Journalism Handbook (which we have translated into Turkish), states that Data Journalism can help a journalist tell a complex story through engaging infographics.

 

What are the different types of data journalism? Would you kindly elaborate shortly?

There are many types. When we look at the Global Data Journalism Awards projects and categories the list is extensive. In this list you also see amazing projects which are selecting under the data journalism discipline. Some of them are based only on graphs, others on huge investigative project with massive teams, using amazing interactive maps, charts, and analysis.

 

What is the background of the formation of data journalism?

Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) is the major background and here you can see all the various histories of Data Journalism. However when we simply go and search Data Journalism on Google Search Trend,  you can see that Data Journalism really didn’t exist pre 2011.

 

In Alexander Benjamin Howard’s Town Center , an art and science data-driven journalism research article,  you can see he is pointing the beginning of Data Journalism to the writer Liliana Bounegru, who was highlighted in the introduction to the Data Journalism Handbook. Bounegru saw the idea of treating data as a source for the news as far from novel: Journalists have been using data to improve or augment traditional reporting for centuries.

Howard continues in the Guardian’s ebook on data journalism, quoting Simon Rogers who said that the first example of data journalism at the Guardian newspaper was back in 1821, reporting student enrollment and associated costs.

 

So as you can see in the data journalism construction history part of his research,  that it is begins very much in the 21st century, but is still a little unclear.  There are some pieces that also show us the term data journalism was first used by the software developer Adrian Holovaty.

 

I also gave some examples in my Data Journalism Turkish ebook.  Where Turkey is concerned we mostly use the oldest newspapers such as Cumhuriyet, Milliyet, Hürriyet. Geçmiş Gazete (The old newspaper web portal ) is collecting archives of newspapers from the past, and when we check their archives we can clearly see some data-based handmade charts and tables there. So, for Turkey this is also not something totally new for us to work with data under the heading Data Journalism, however  (Veri Gazeteciliği /Veri Haberciliği) terminology, it is quite new.

 

Who enjoys the significant role data journalism plays?  

 

I can only give my personal opinion on this, however if you are reporting good data journalism, it will be the public and the newsrooms that will really feel the benefits. This is mainly because data journalism, similar to any sort of good journalism aims to make our life better.

 

Could you please introduce some useful resources about data journalism?

There are many good resources for Data Journalism. I have an ongoing list of resources that I have posted here:

http://www.verigazeteciligi.com/veri-gazeteciligi-ile-ilgili-ucretsiz-kitapokumaegitim-kaynaklari/

 

   

Which media and websites use data journalism more than others?

 

The Guardian Datablog , Financial Times, The New York Times UpShot, i100 independent, Zeit Online Datablog, The Washington Post Data Post, FiveThirtyEight, Propublica. I also know that lots of local news media organisations use Data Journalism as well, both in the UK and EU countries.

 

In Turkey there is still no specific organisation concentrating on data driven information. My organisation Dağ Medya relies on data driven reports heavily but we are more of a  small newsroom.

 

What were the objectives behind the formation of data journalism?

 

Pre-2011 there seemed to be no real data journalism. What was the significance of 2011? For me, it began after several data security incidents such as Wikileaks, Swissleaks, and Luxleaks.  There is a big possibility of more leaks in the future. To see huge raw data sets can be useful for news items and investigations, and this could be one of the many  objectives, albeit ‘accidental’ in nature. Data Journalism has a continuous place now. Journalists, newsrooms and the press industry have figured out that huge amounts of raw data can be used in news reporting in many different formats and practises. I believe this ecology is also highly influential. We have data in digital form, from government databases, NGOs data sets and so many others which you can collect and filter to make sense of it.

 

     

To what extend has data journalism affected the perception of information by the audience?

 

If you are producing quality data journalism it can really makes consciousness difference to an audience. The question, “why data journalism now?” can be answered like this; a government’s’ open database can help journalists to make things publicly more transparent and can also create trust between you (reporter, newsrooms e.g) and your audience. So, in essence it is affecting the perception of information however we may not have seen yet the impact of data journalism. This is a useful piece: http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/08/metrics-metrics-everywhere-how-do-we-measure-the-impact-of-journalism/

 

How are data journalism, visual journalism and infographics connected?

 

Working with data and making data journalism means you are telling compelling stories in a visual way. So when you put it all together you need the correct tools which will produce infographics, maps or pie charts. This how all these types of journalism connect together, they are really interlocked into a complete package.

 

How many people are there in data journalism teams around the world?

Marco Túlio Pires  a representative from the School of Data Team, was in our Ankara Open Data & Data Journalism workshop last week. He shared a presentation with attendees also about data Journalism teams.

 

He divides people into four groups:

 

Team (The lone wolf) – One person does it all It is possible because of the huge amount of free tools: OpenRefine, Datawrapper, Tableau, Google Fusion Tables, CartoDB and a lot more

 

Team with 2 The data journalism team at the Guardian in the US produced the awarded Guide to gay rights in the US

 

Small teams (~4-6) – They can produce innovative projects quickly. It can be a proper desk Example: Sandy’s Hurricane Map (WNYC)

 

Big teams (~20+)  – They have a defined strategy to create a new kind of online journalism, Those teams improve the way we tell stories, It is a desk Example: 2012 Olympic Experience  (New York Times)

 

What is the cost of creating such a team?

 

I think it also depends if your team is full time or freelancing in your organisation. In general  developers and programmers can cost more than rest of your data team. I remember last year one of our projects that we completed with a developer that came at a high cost. However, as always, things are constantly changing.

 

What expertise and experiences are the team members required to have?

 

I would say a little bit of everything. If you are working with data you need to know at least a basic standard of knowledge using Excel, Spreadsheets  but there is no specific formation for this yet which would be set as standard for data journalism. What I am teaching at my workshops and university are basic tools to create good charts, maps, cleaning and filtering tools for data also data scraping and importing tools.

 

For a team you can require programming, SQL, or R & JavaScript, Python. If you want to be involved in data journalism or you want to be a data journalist you need to make sure you know some of the basic things as mentioned above. The formation of the necessary skillset is changing and improving all the time.

 

Again it depends on your projects, and your needs.

 

Currently, which media have a specialized data journalism team?

 

As above I spoke about some organisations who produce data journalism, and these would be specialising, albeit partly, in Data Journalism. Media would include newspapers, magazines,  journalism, and broadcasting.

 

Is there a specific framework or design for data journalism around the world?

 

Not that I know of, I believe every team or data journalist has their own workflow/framework. Recently I saw a table and found it very useful, about using flowcharts to avoid getting stuck in data journalism projects  You can see there are some individual frameworks but I can not say there is a specific framework or design for data journalism itself.  

 

What is the average time needed to create data journalism? (considering the urgency of story)

 

Data Journalist and Instructor Eva Constantaras presented Breaking News with  Data  at one of our workshops in İstanbul, held at Bahçeşehir University last May. You can see in her presentation that data journalism lead times can vary. You will that see Fivethirtyeight makes it on a daily basis  but the Guardian Datablog might need more time. It really depends on the project, budget, team and urgency of the story as you mentioned. For example, our finalist project for the Data Journalism Awards 2015 took us four months to produce. It was hard to find good data and we have a small team.

 

Who are the well-known designers of data journalism?

 

Flowing Data Founder Nathan Yau,  Sisi Wei from Propublica,  Steffen Kühne , Jacopo Ottaviani  Journalism++ Team are some to mention. You can find more designers here in the Global Data Journalists Directory  

 

Which countries are the leading ones in this field?

 

America, South  America, Europe. Africa, and it is developing in Asia too. The Middle East is still very slow on the uptake.

In Turkey in particular it is slow however it is still a hot topic. Data literacy, open data and data journalism is still in its infancy in Turkey, but we have come a long way in regards to organising more than 20 workshops. It is continuing to grow all the time. We are a pioneer in this regard, but it’s still a long shot.

 

The best in infographics are selected annually. Will there be a similar procedure for data journalism? Is there a summit similar to Malofiej for data journalism?

 

For three years now, The Global Editors Network have been holding the Data Journalism Award. This is a very well known international award system,  however there are also national awards. Even one of our projects were selected for the final category in the DJA2015 this year. It was our second application but this was the first time we were selected. Hopefully we will also be shortlisted and even win in the National Data Journalism competitions in the near future for Turkey.

 

Have any media, other than online media, shown any interest in data journalism? If so, which ones?

My answer will be same that I gave in this question above: “Which media and websites use data journalism more than others?”

Which types of media have used data journalism more successfully?

 

I think data journalism awards (#dja2015) winners would qualify for the title of successful users of data journalism, as they most fit the criteria of projects and why they have been selected. Personally, I believe  Journalism++ team  is very successful at producing good data journalism, their The Migrants File in particular is one of the most intensive projects I have seen.

 

Swiss Leaks by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Five Thirty Eight’s Which Flight Will Get You There Fastest?  (They analyzed six million flights to figure out which airports, airlines and routes are most likely to get you there on time and which ones will leave you waiting.) these are other projects that have been of particular success in my opinion.

 

How about the future of data journalism? Is there a positive or negative outlook?

There is both a positive and a negative outlook. These three articles would be good to for you to refer to:

This Is Why Data Journalism Is Failing  

data journalism wins and fails  

Nate Silver’s frivolous failure

Do agree that the future world is a visual one? Having this in mind, should we expect the development of data journalism or different types of visualization of content?

Yes I agree that it will be a visual world. I personally still like to read long well-written news reports even though I support and believe in data journalism visual harmony. We are now seeing more mobile compatible content and mobile users. Simon Rogers said in one of his articles that Data Journalism needs to go mobile (Mobile Data Journalism ) and I strongly agree with that. I also believe it will change and develop more than before.  If we take Turkey as an example, we are very keen to see visual news etc but we are not so good yet at making that happen for readers. Turkey must not be limited to only infographics or interactive simple maps for visual future, and  but of course things are still developing.

 

Are there universities in your country presenting the required knowledge for data journalism? If yes, which universities? And what are the majors?

Only my own University Kadir Has University New Media offers data journalism. The major would be Communication.

Are there any academic conferences for data journalism? If there are, would you name some of them?

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), International Journalism Festival (Specially School of Data /School of Data Journalism), The Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), Nordic Data Journalism Conference, Balkan Investigative Journalists , International Journalism Centre Events (EJC)  

 

For more can follow here: Can also follow here: http://datadrivenjournalism.net/events/data_journalism_in_the_21st_century_panel_presentations

 

A National one that we hold in Turkey for the New Media Conference ( Yeni Medya Konferansı ) Dağ Medya News Organisation does  regular conferences & workshops Data Journalism Conference&Workshops since 2013 (Mostly Turkish however sometimes English language too) It can follow here : http://www.verigazeteciligi.com/

 

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