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Claire Miller talks about ‘data journalism’ at Kingston University

January 11, 2013

A while ago, Claire Miller, who is a reporter at Media Wales, came to Kingston University to give our journalism class a one-hour speech about ‘data journalism’.

Claire Miller

Claire Miller

As I had never heard about this before, I really sharpened my ears and got excited. My excitement didn’t last for long though, as I discovered that data journalism is in fact everywhere and used frequently and nothing too special at all. Put simply, as the hyperlink above says as well, it is journalism put together using data.

This got me thinking though about the differences between “ordinary journalism” (which to me is something like: get a tip about a guy with a story, go meet him for a coffee, get a story, gather facts, put in print) and data journalism. To me it seems like a journalist using data could more or less choose what to put in context and what to write about – that is in the end going to be published and read by thousands of people. While in “ordinary journalism” you are more or less forced to write about what is right in front of you right now.

If something terrible is happening in a country somewhere, like a war or such, you are actually forced to write about that. That is what you do, that is journalism. Meanwhile, there is data journalist somewhere gathering information about whatever he wants, personally. It could be that crime rate’s gone up, that there’ve been 20% more shark attacks the last year compared to the year before or that AIDS in Africa’s gone up by 10% over the last five years.

So what happens when journalism is on top of the canyon ready to fall? Data journalism steps in and saves the day – because there is always something out there to make a story of using data.

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