How to Make Data Journalism Work for You at the Newsroom

The Afghan War Diary, a collection of internal Military logs released by WikiLeaks in Jul. 2010, brought data journalism into the limelight. Journalists scrambled to find ways to analyze, summarize and curate (Source: The Guardian) the vast amount of data they received (over 91,000 documents) to create easily understandable stories for their audience. It wasn’t just the biggest scoop of the year – it was the onset of journalists using raw data to develop content for news agencies.

Data Journalism is complex. It comprises of two main facets – news gathering, and producing output with the information gathered. The data collected must be meaningful to the audience, and be able to convey new stories. In 2009, The Guardian released a Datablog that updates itself with links to their news stories created by consolidating news data into information.

Extract Data from a Billion Tweets

Data Journalists must now know how to sift through large amounts of raw data and pick out what is newsworthy. Are there sudden changes in the information? What are the highlights? By analyzing data in a standardized way, it becomes easier to pick patterns and understand underlying themes in the information.

In an age where content is king, everything can be informative. Where do you start finding data stories? Utilize the data available to you – census data and social media can help craft content that will excite your readers. Data does not have to be boring – make it work for your news agency.

Put your Data in Context

With a digital age comes the need to create content that is visually appealing to news audiences. Numbers mean nothing without context. That’s why data journalism is so exciting to the industry – it allows you to create impactful infographics and designs to represent the information you have in a user-friendly way. Infographics are not the only way to release information – increasingly, news agencies are using forms of interactive visualization techniques that can change end results based on user input.

What are the best tools you can use to create visual output from raw data? What software is best for charts, graphs and designs in the newsroom?

Why you Must Attend Digital Journalism World 2015

Our exciting panel of speakers at this summit will introduce important points for discussion, like; in a data-driven world – should journalists learn to code? How do you report on transnational, data-driven investigative reports? How can algorithmic curation help you as a journalist decide how and when to deliver the content?

DJW15 has lined up speakers from top agencies to give you insight into how to utilize data in a way that benefits your agency, and how to create the best content from the information you have. The Financial Times’ Martin Stabe; The New York Times’ Mat Yurow; BBC’s Ryan O’Connor; The Washington Post’s Greg Barber; ICIJ’s Mar Cabra and Helsingin Sanomat’s Esa Makinen will bring you the latest information and updates on how to gather your stories, understand them, and present them to your audience.

Save you and your team a seat at #DJW15 – don’t miss this great opportunity to mix and mingle with the best minds in the industry.

Are Robots Taking Over Journalism?

Are Robots taking over Journalism?

At the Digital Journalism World Summit 2015 (11-12 May 2015, One Farrer Hotel & Spa, Singapore), Hille van der Kaa of Fonty’s School of Applied Sciences will discuss how robot journalism and automated reporting systems are becoming more relevant, and how to integrate the new technologies available in news agencies.

It’s not a stretch to think about. In a society that has come to accept the “Robot Revolution” as an alternative ending to life as we know it, robots that help generate the news we consume is not such a far-fetched idea. In fact, AP ran an article discussing this just two months ago: their article “Apple tops Street 1Q forecasts” was generated entirely by a robot well versed in AP’s Style Guides. Forbes’ “Narrative Science” writer has also been making waves with its generation of economic news articles, and The LA Times used a robot to report an earthquake in 2013.

Two years is a long time in technology, so it’s about time we asked: what exactly is robot journalism, and how does it work?

To put it simply, an algorithm is used to consolidate data into a news article. In the case of AP, the article is generated following the rules of the AP Style Guide. In a small-scale study described in Wired, two groups of undergraduates were asked to rate and describe a news article written by a flesh-and-blood journalist, and one written by a robot. They were not told which article was written by whom (or by what) and the results were quite surprising.

The journalist’s article scored well on being “well written, clear and pleasant” to read, whilst the robot’s article scored highly on being “descriptive, informative, more accurate, trustworthy, and objective.” When subjects were asked which article was written by a person versus a robot, the answers were vague. 10 out of 27 undergraduates who had read the article written by a robot felt that the journalist wrote it, whilst 10 out of 18 undergraduates who read the journalist’s article believed it to be written by software.

Is it fair to say that most people can’t tell the difference between something written by a human or a robot? Based on the small sample size and end results – perhaps not. Articles written by automatic storytellers do come with errors, and will have to be reviewed and amended before being published. There is also enough information out there to support that robots journalists will complement reporters in the search for better, cleaner content to incorporate in news articles – in other words, that no jobs will be lost in favor of these robots.

With the software and algorithms used to create these articles only improving with time, we’re sure that the era of robots in journalism is just beginning, and that people should sit up and take notice.

Hille van der Kaa, a Professor of Future Media at Fonty’s School of Applied Sciences, will discuss this at the Digital Journalism World conference on 11 May in Singapore. She will outline the latest developments in the field of automated storytelling, and give an in-depth look at how the top news media have been using robots to automate news generation, harvest live data sets and collect data in violent scenarios.

Find out what the key rules are to dealing with automated storytellers and bots, and why you need to be on top of this dynamic change. Register yourself and your team for #DJW15 today.

Foreword by James Neufeld

Change happens whether you like it or not. Change isn’t something to be debated post-mortem or after the fact. We can spend forever discussing what happened, how it happened and how to make sense of change that transpired in our industry.

This conference is about now; what is happening now and how to be the best we can be now. Innovation and improvement are a consistent state of being. Start now, don’t wait for a conference. Digital Journalism World is for those living in a state of change and pursuit of innovation.

We meet to inspire, learn, connect and act. Don’t coming looking for change. Come because change is happening!
 
- James Neufeld, CEO & Founder, SAM