[open-government] [ckan-discuss] Questions for journalists about what datasets are useful for them?

Liane H liane99 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 00:12:04 GMT 2011

I worked as a journalist for over a decade, and my experience is that many
journalists are 'afraid' of data and as such not very likely to respond to
broad questions. With the risk of hugely oversimplifying, they want data to
strengthen their story but often are not too sure how to assess the
reliability and/or how to interpret the data. And all datasets are
potentially interesting, but of course health, crime and education always

Graphs are good, like Armand suggested. A 'stats for dummies' which includes
a clear description of what the data does and does not say, confidence
intervals and what they mean, can maybe help.

Many journalists have not even had basic training in methods of research or
statistics. This is not to put anyone down, it is just to be aware of this.
In addition, journalists are always working against deadlines so they don't
have the time to really assess the validity of the data.

All in all, I'm afraid I can't really think of other questions at the moment
but I do think the crux lies more in explaining and contextualising the data
rather than the datasets.

I know this is quite vague, but still hope this is helpful in some way.


On 22 March 2011 10:40, Armand Brahaj <mandi at shqiperia.com> wrote:

> Providing some information on this topic:
> We are running a project on Open Data Albania (open.data.al) and we found
> out that journalists are interested only in information that are visually
> represented (any graph will do). They do not care how much data you store
> in your repository, if the data is in RDF tripples or plain excels.
> If they see a graph describing any-thing which can make news, they will
> use it. For this reason we launched a beta-website with articles containing
> graphics and some description of them (+link to excels), and we had quite
> an impact in the Media in the region. We published smth like 40
> graph+descriptions and there have been more than 40 articles in the press
> and TV coverages reports.
> When dealing with journalists, I think you should consider more the last
> question in your questioner: "What kind of tools would you like to help you
> work with the datasets".
> Rgds,
> Armand
> On Sat, 19 Mar 2011 20:12:08 +0000, Christopher Gutteridge
> <cjg at ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:
> > Sorry, that sounds more sulky than I intended, I mean that I'm
> > interested in how to get people interested in what for most people can
> > be a bit of a technical and inaccessible subject, even though it's going
> > to make Good Stuff happen.
> >
> > Christopher Gutteridge wrote:
> >> What kind of data release is newsworthy?
> >>
> >> I'm a bit miffed that the University of Southampton open data service
> >> didn't get more wide coverage. I don't know if it's something we
> >> should make more of an effort to get stories about or if it's just not
> >> very interesting.
> >>
> >> Jonathan Gray wrote:
> >>> A friend of mine is doing a survey on the data needs and data related
> >>> training needs of journalists and has asked if I have any suggestions
> >>> for questions that I'd like answers to, that could be included in the
> >>> survey. I'm thinking of proposing 2-3 questions, along the lines of:
> >>>
> >>>   * What kinds of public datasets would be useful to you as a
> >>> journalist? (Please be as specific as possible)
> >>>   * What kinds of questions do you want to use these datasets to
> >>> answer? What kinds of issues do you want to explore? (Please be as
> >>> specific as possible)
> >>>   * What kinds of tools would you like to help you work with these
> >>> datasets?
> >>>
> >>> Anyone think of any other questions? Or improvements/amendments to the
> >>> questions above? Suggestions for rewording?
> >>>
> >>> Answers on a postcard. ;-)
> >>>
> >>> J.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >
> > --
> > Christopher Gutteridge -- http://id.ecs.soton.ac.uk/person/1248
> >
> > You should read the ECS Web Team blog:
> > http://blogs.ecs.soton.ac.uk/webteam/
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-government
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