Delegates attending the NCTJ Data Journalism Seminar on 25 May at Bloomberg in London heard that “anyone can do data journalism but not necessarily well” by Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian Data Blog and Datastore, as part of his presentation on relevant skills and technology.
Simon explained how he uses data in his current role and some of the tools used in the industry. He emphasised that data journalism is “still all about stories” and that it is just some of the technology used for gathering, analysing and displaying content that has changed. Referencing the first edition of The Guardian he commented that “none of this is new” as even then the paper was full of data, however updated graphics make information more usable and help people to visualise stories. He also explained that it’s not necessary to be a developer in order to use the technology available and highlighted a few key tools journalists use including Google Fusion Tables and Public Data Explorer.
Simon spoke about a few key stories he worked on during his career including the Wikileaks Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, the MPs’ expenses scandal and last year’s riots. He also gave some tips for student projects, advising tutors to use local government stories as examples.
Paul Addison, managing editor, training, Bloomberg News then gave a demonstration of the Bloomberg terminal, showing how the technology is used both within Bloomberg and also by external companies. He explained that every journalist at Bloomberg is a data journalist due to the nature of business and financial news.
Award-winning journalist Caelainn Barr provided some advice about making Freedom Of Information requests and how to deal with responses, particularly rejections and omissions. She also delivered a presentation on using data in journalism and suggested some resources for students and tutors to use such as Request Initiative, Whatdotheyknow.com and Ask the EU. She felt a grounding in Excel spreadsheets was a good starting point for managing and analysing data, demonstrating how she had generated stories about public spending on cocktail parties.
Andrew Garratt from The Royal Statistical Society provided delegates with information on the Get Stats campaign and materials available for courses. The campaign is designed to improve how people handle numbers – the practical numbers of daily life, business and policy – and is also working to establish good practices of reporting data and statistics in the media.
Delegates were welcomed to the seminar by Mark Gilbert, London Bureau Chief, Bloomberg, who provided an introduction to the company and the way Bloomberg uses data for news stories.
At the end of the seminar Jo Ferguson, news and multimedia recruiter for Bloomberg, described the internship opportunities for NCTJ students. Bloomberg will be recruiting ten interns in the next round of applications.
There will be further explanation of some of the tools highlighted at the seminar at the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference in Nottingham on 28-29 November.