The future of journalism is in data
By Guido Romeo
"Data is the future of journalism" Sir Tim Berners Lee stated a few months ago. Data journalism owes a great deal to the inventor of the web, as it is now more than fifty years since that data has been archived digitally, the development of the web has created unprecedented possibilities and there are already many editorial boards which are experimenting with new uses for the data that can be used to create information.
Geoff McGhee, who worked at the NYTimes, AbcNews and Le Monde interactif with the help of a John S. Knight Fellowship collected together in a video the stories about many of the most significant episodes of data journalism. The video (below is an extract, on the site of Stanford University there is the full version) is very accessible and has become a “classic”.
Among Geoff’s conclusions are the following points which are worth highlighting and are all points which this blog will be analysing in greater depth:
• The analysis of data requires new instruments, above all in editorial offices which are by no means fitted out like statistical bureaus.
• Above and beyond the analysis of data, a very important issue is the visualization of this data where statistics, journalism and artistic sensibility all merge into one.
• Journalists are developing a new ability to write articles using data.
• There is no shortage of traps: many visualizations of data look great but do they really tell a story?
• Real time data: with the widespread use of mobile phones and the web the amount of real time data is increasing dramatically and this is a very intriguing scenario.
Just think what could be achieved with the anonymous data of a million inhabitants of a city, to reconstruct the flow of traffic during the rush hour... or the data on electoral polling (the NYTimes did this for the election of Obama in 2008 and it was repeated last year for the congressional elections).