Friday, 14 August 2015

Storytelling with data

Data journalism can be much more than an impressive, interactive visualization or an inmmersive longform piece. There’s also the option of letting the data and the visualizations lead the storytelling, allowing for a much deeper comprehension of the subject at hand, as it’s the case with this work from the Tampa Bay Times. There, visualizations lead the story to show us the case they are investigating and explain to us why it’s important, taking us through each step.

Visit the story to see for yourself.


Friday, 25 April 2014

#jpd14 – Gabriela Rodríguez (La Nación) & Mar Cabra (ICIJ, Civio, OKFN…)

Gabriela Rodríguez (La Nación), speaking at the II Jornadas de Periodismo de Datos in Barcelona:

Successful media companies work with their communities

Data journalists share with hackers their passion about what they do.

There’s a lack of collaboration between journalists. They should take more risks. The more successful journalists would be those that reach out and collaborate with more people.

Mar Cabra (ICIJ, Civio, OKFN…), speaking at the II Jornadas de Periodismo de Datos in Barcelona:

Journalists and coders share a vision of the world based in their curiosity.

#jpd14 – Juan Francisco Caro (Extremadura en Datos)

Juan Francisco Caro (Extremadura en Datos), speaking at the II Jornadas de Periodismo de Datos in Barcelona:

Data journalism is not just getting data out there. You have to verify sources and master statistical concepts to avoid publishing mistaken assumptions and interpretations. If not, information becomes disinformation.

#jpd14 – Nicola Hughes (The Times)

Nicola Hughes (The Times), speaking at the II Jornadas de Periodismo de Datos in Barcelona:

If you can write it, record it or film it it’s not from the web, you’re putting something else on the web

Data journalism is becoming too popular, in the sense that some people think that it’s enough to do some line charts, bar charts, just putting data out there, but they are not telling the story. There’s a need for storytelling.

The internet is transient, there’s no control over the tools you use, they can disappear. But knowing how to code solves that. And it also helps to document, backup, reproduce projects, and reuse tools in different projects.

The problem right now is not that information is scarce, it’s the opposite, organisations and institutions publish a ton of information, and because most journalists only look for press releases and copy to rewrite, interesting things become hidden in the deluge.

Advice to journalists: Take risks. Use your imagination. Think of yourself as a craftsman.

There’s no such thing as “I don’t know”, just “I haven’t googled it yet”.

Do one coding course, just one, and then start building things. You have to write a lot of bad poetry to start writing good poetry. it’s very much a craft.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

#jpd14: data journalism event in Barcelona

This whole weekend the second edition of the Jornadas de Periodismo de Datos will take place in Barcelona, Madrid and Almería, starting today. I’ll be participating with a modest workshop on spreadsheets in Barcelona on Saturday, but the speaker roster is filled with pretty big names in the spanish and latin-american data journalism community. The sessions are streamed online, but if you happen to live in any of the hosting cities, it’s worth attending the sessions on site.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Digital Currency Timeline

I’m currently writing an article on digital currencies for a future, small-run magazine edited by Crazy Little Things. To complement the article, and to try to learn some new data-journalism skills I decided to do also a timeline of the most relevant digital currencies for the past 20+ years. This is the result:

How it’s done

I used Inkscape to draw the SVG file: timeline, bars and text, and create the layout. Then I added basic interactivity by hand using a text-editor. The content is based on my own research for the article. I plan to include in further releases a csv with the source data used in the timeline so it’s easier for others to replicate it using other tools.

Regarding interactivity, right now you can uncover some contextual information hovering your mouse over certain years, and click on the names of the digital currencies to go to their website or get more information. I plan to add more contextual information on the currencies, explaining the type of currency and the reason it dissapeared, if needed.

Improve it

The project (just an SVG file) is hosted on Github. You can download it, fork it, open a new issue, send ideas or suggestions. The project is under a NC-BY-SA Creative Commons licence. This is my first time using Git and Github for a project like this, and I’ll share my experience in a separate post. I can tell you now that I’ll definitely keep using it.

I’m also open to criticism on the timeline content: Did I miss a critical digital currency project? Should I remove something from the timeline? Is any of the data wrong? I’m all ears.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Top 5 essential skills for a data journalist

New York Times’ Aron Pilhofer answer to that question on the NICAR-L mailing list:

My top five (in order of importance):

  1. Know that the most important part of data journalism is… journalism. Reporting. In other words, you know how to report a story, you understand how to treat data as a source. You know how to pick up a phone, and not just assume that everything you get in data form (especially government data) is complete and accurate.
  2. You have at least basic data skills — meaning, you know your way around a spreadsheet. You can figure out for yourself how to import data, and do something with it. You also understand the basics of data analysis: rates, ratios, sums, averages, medians, and how to use them.
  3. You have command of more advanced data analysis skills, such as GIS, basic statistics, advanced SQL, etc. You also may know some basic programming techniques (using the language of your choice… Python, Perl, Ruby. ILENE.. shoot, even .NET) to scrape the web, get and clean data.
  4. You can apply your basic programming techniques to the creation of data-driven news applications using off-the-shelf tools like Google maps, MapBox, Fusion Tables, etc. At this point, you are not running servers, or serving database-driven apps. But you are creatively using what is available to you to add to your reporting online. This is probably where you need to get on the Javascript train.
  5. You have some skills with a web framework (Django, Rails, Grails) in order to enhance your reporting online through data-driven applications that you create from scratch and host.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Barcelona: income by neighborhood

Red hues: Below average
Green: Around average
Blue hues: Above average

I see a trend around the Diagonal. Urbanism influenced wealth distribution around the city, or the other way around? What has been the impact of gentrification (Olympic Games, Fórum, 22@) in Vila Olímpica, Diagonal Mar, and Parc i Llacuna del Poblenou?

This map is going to be one of the exercises I’ll teach at a data visualization workshop organized by Media140, on November 7th, at Vilaweb, in Barcelona.