Data Driven Journalism: The Series Begins…

This post is by Lucy Chambers, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation. The post contains a link to a report on the OKF / EJC Data Driven Journalism workshop on EU Spending, which took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on 8th-9th September.

The report was written by Nicolas Kayser-Bril who attended the workshop, and may be helping to run the next in the series in Warsaw in October… stay tuned to the data-driven journalism mailing list for more on the upcoming workshops…

“Data journalism is hard, but that’s precisely what makes it worthwhile… Not every journalist has the skills, knowledge or the commitment to dig into the data…so the ones who do are at a massive advantage” – Chris Taggart [paraphrased], closing remarks

The first in what we hope will become series of data-driven journalism events, the European Journalism Centre and the OKF teamed up alongside a crack-team experts to help tackle some of the technical & research-based challenges facing the modern journalist.

I have no intention of re-inventing the wheel here by giving a full rundown; Nicolas sums up the workshop & gives his insightful ideas for future workshops in his report on the Data Driven Journalism Blog from the EJC far better than I would. You can read the full report here. But just to whet your appetite here and now, here is a snippet:

“As Friedrich Lindenberg was writing this abstruse code on his MacBook plugged on the beamer at the workshop on EU spending on 9 September, 20 journalists listened attentively as data started to speak before their eyes. In a conference room in Utrecht University’s 15th-century Faculty Club, the group from across Europe watched as Lindenberg compared a list of lobbying firms with the list of accredited experts at the European Commission: Any overlap would clearly suggest a conflict of interest.”

“More than watching, the audience actually followed in Lindenberg’s steps on Google Refine, an Excel-like tool, and was taming the data on their own laptops. At this point in time, more journalists were engaging in data-mining in Utrecht than in any other newsroom. This practical exercise was the climax of two days of learning to investigate the mountains of data produced by European institutions. Besides Lindenberg, the coder behind OpenSpending, EU datajournalist Caelainn Barr, OpenCorporates founder Chris Taggart and Erik Wesselius of Corporate Europe shared expertise with participants…”

The workshop clearly indicated that there is a great demand for practical skill-based workshops amongst journalists to help them to reap maximum benefit from all the data that is available. One person even asked for a week-long version of the workshop, covering everything in more detail!

We’ll see about the week-long session, but if you are sorry to have missed the last short workshop, don’t despair, there are more workshops coming soon!

Data-journalist? Data-wrangler? Tech geek? New to the field?

Will you be in or around Warsaw on 19th October?

We will be holding a one-day workshop in Warsaw in the run-up to Open Government Data Camp. The important thing to stress about this workshop is that we are looking to have a good ratio of technical people (e.g. programmers & data wranglers) to journalists, so that we can create smaller groups to really go into detail to get the results, fast!

We will post more information about the workshop in the coming days, but places will be limited, so if you are keen (& organised) request an invitation by contacting us now.

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