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Posts Tagged ‘data’

Knight Foundation Report Looks at Sustainability of Non Profit News

findingfootholdOne of the Knight Foundation’s latest reports is “Finding a Foothold,” looking at 18 non-profit news organizations and how they remain sustainable. Some key takeaways from the report show that, luckily, there’s not just one way to survive; both small and larger organizations are experimenting with various strategies and the majority of non-profit news organizations broke even this year.

This study was a follow up to a 2011 report called “Getting Local,” in which they noted that many non-profit startups had yet to find a working business model. Mayur Patel, VP for Strategy and Assessment, told me over the phone that that hasn’t really changed. And that’s OK:

We’ve seen people experiment with  various approaches, but there isnt a clear cut way about how to do this in the long run. We have seen some really interesting progress — a lot of the non profits we looked at in the first study moved much further along reducing their reliance on foundation funding and we see two emerging pathways how people are doing this. On the one side you’re starting to see a lot of local and state based news ventures move away from a reliance on foundation funding and branching out by securing corporate sponsorships. On the other, you have the national investigative news organizations that publish less frequently reduce their reliance on foundation funding by ramping up their individual donor base.

Some other key trends Patel noted: Read more

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Center for Investigative Reporting Launches API For Veterans Affairs Investigation Data

After publishing an investigation of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ backlog of disability benefits claims, the Center for Investigative Reporting has now made all of its data open and usable for others via an API (application programming interface). Read more

3 Things Journalists Should Ask About Their Data

Have you ever read a news article that cited confusing statistics or some fuzzy math that didn’t seem to make logical sense or add up? Chances are, the math and stats didn’t make sense to the reporter who wrote it either.

Whether it’s quarterly earning statements, census figures or standardized testing results, journalists on all beats can’t avoid data. It’s ubiquitous and, thanks to the Internet, readily available. Unfortunately, “data literacy” isn’t quite as common.

It’s one thing to know technical skills like how to format, filter and sort, and run basic pivot tables or access queries, and it’s another to really understand the data and math itself, let alone why the numbers matter and what they mean.

That’s why I was excited to see this post at Media Helping Media: “Journalists – become data literate in three steps.” The post outlines three questions every journalist should ask before diving into their data:

  1. How was the data collected?
  2. What’s in there to learn?
  3. How reliable is the information?

Go read the post to learn more about why these questions matter most, and specific instances where they can make a very big difference. It’s a piece taken from the Data Journalism Handbook, which is worth checking out in and of itself, though more of a time committment.

Data literacy really boils down to good journalism, and the more you understand the numbers and their source, the more confidently (and correctly) you can report them.

Round Two of the Knight News Challenge

The second round of the Knight News Challenge is underway, and it’s not too late to formulate your innovative ideas into 500 words for a chance to win a share of $5 million in funding. The first round of the challenge, which focused on networks, is already closed. Winners will be announced on June 18. But the second round, which focuses on data, will be open for another two weeks. The challenge used to be a once-a-year happening, but now there are three rounds a year in order to “more closely match the pace of innovation.” Read more

NICAR roundup of data journalism ideas

For those who don’t know, or haven’t seen the flurry of #NICAR12 tweets this past week/end, the best minds in data journalism met in St. Louis for the annual CAR conference put on by IRE and its National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

Between the hashtag and the official blog, you’ll get a good overview of initial impressions and topics covered — from avoiding data dumps in stories to harvesting trends from social media. Chrys Wu, again this year, has done a fabulous job rounding up the multitude of presentations at NICAR.

Here are five of my favorite topics, but I encourage you to bookmark Wu’s page and peruse them all, because there are some awesome ideas and tips there:

  • Human Assisted Reporting — This slideshow presents an “aha idea” that I can’t believe I never thought of: automating tasks beat reporters do regularly with data, and then programming your computer to do simple data analysis automatically. My favorite easy example of this was mining the daily police blotter for trends or keywords (who has the highest bail and what is the bail/the crime? any nurses, teachers, ministers, etc. arrested?)
  • Weathering the Storm: Using data to bolster the traditional weather story — Maybe it’s the nearly four years I spent working as a news reporter at a mid-sized paper and the dozens of weather stories I was forced to work on, but I believe there’s a special place in journo-heaven for anyone who can turn the most over-used story topic into something new and interesting for readers/watchers/listeners. Here’s your ticket to attempting just that.
  • Advanced Excel Tips — Excel is pretty much the program I use the most, and most heavily, on my work computer, after Firefox of course. So this tipsheet from the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s MaryJo Webster is not only a good refresher on bits I know well, but it also includes some great tips on doing things I haven’t quite mastered. From date functions to string functions, this is a solid list that I’ll be saving for future reference, and you should too.
  • How to use election data (and other good stuff to know) — This is actually a round-up from John Keefe of his four presentations, including one on election night and maps and election data without databases. He also covers other interesting topics, including everything you need to know about APIs, using Google Spreadsheets as your backend CMS, and hacking the Census data.
  • Build your first news app with Django — Their first step-by-step tutorial is how to build an interactive poll, with some other getting started resources.

There are many other topics covered, including on some of these same topics, as well as new tools to use and some examples of investigative data journalism at work. What was your favorite element of NICAR this year?

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