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Three tips for newspapers getting started in data journalism

data journalism

To cultivate a loyal audience in today's media environment, newspapers must do more than simply churn out stories.

Editors and their newsrooms should create usable products, like data-driven news and information tools, to serve their readers, said Knight International Journalism Fellow Justin Arenstein at the World Editors Forum in Bangkok during his master's class for editors.

Data journalism is “no longer just entertainment and no longer just voyeurism but creating decision-making tools based on news reporting,” said Arenstein, according to the International News Media Association (INMA). Here are a few tips for newspapers getting started with data journalism, gleaned from INMA's summary of the session:

Choose stories with long-term value.

“What is the pain that my readers are trying to solve in their lives?” Arenstein suggests using that question as a starting point for deciding what data and information are most important for a news organization to deliver.

Join the open data community.

Open data is information that can be used, reused and even distributed at no cost. "There is a growing international eco-system and community that media companies can start tapping into and a global network of people interested in building solutions and experimenting," Arenstein said. A great place to look for available data is DocumentCloud, where anyone can upload data sets they obtain.

Encourage newsroom staff to learn on their own.

Even if you don't have money to bring in trainers or send staff to training, reporters can learn a lot on their own by dedicating just an hour a day to tutorials and self-managed training. A good place to start is at the School of Data.

Read more about Arenstein's session in Bangkok on the International News Media Association website and on the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) blog.

Photo courtesy of Riebart licensed under Creative Commons.

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