Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

To gain knowledge, insight and foresight into the developing media landscape, the best forms of education lie outside the classroom. I am a huge proponent of self-learning through experimentation. So I constantly go to events, lectures, hackathons and conferences.

I have recently been to HackHackersNYC and HacksHackerTO, as well as universities and newsrooms in the US. I find myself preaching the data journalism cause but also looking to learn more (code, as with journalism, is all about continuous learning).

An amazing opportunity that rolls everything into one brilliant bonanza of creativity, collaboration and coding is the Mozilla Festival taking place in London, UK on 4-6 November. The theme is Media, Freedom and the Web and if that isn’t enough to entice you I suggest you take a look at the line up as well as the star attendees.

ScraperWiki and DataMinerUK will be there as part of the Data Driven Journalism Toolkit. So come along if you wanna dig the data and do a whole lot more!

Just a couple of notices regarding journalism skills to be got in the real world, not just the virtual.

HacksHackers London meetup tomorrow on their 1 year anniversary. Be there or be an equilateral quadrangle. Speakers include Alec Muffett from Green Lane Security and Martin Belam from The Guardian.

Stanford University School of Engineering are offering a free online course “Introduction to Databases“. I am signing up for it and I suggest you do too. There is a branch of data journalism known as database journalism. They have been resigned to the world of B2B journalism, maintaining their databases for use as their main revenue source. I believe database skills are going to come in handy for mainstream journalists and understanding databases is the key to unlocking your data journalism skills. And it’s free! This may not work well in the virtual world but I suggest forming study groups with other like-minded folk.

A documentary coming out 23rd September called “Page One”  follows a year at the New York Times and chronicles the impact of new media on the newsroom. Invite potential study buddies to watch it and fool them into thinking they’ll have fun. Here’s the trailer:

An article titled “Editors: ‘Traditional skills more important than new media’” in the Press Gazette today shows how little ‘editors’ understand what new media is. New media is a not a reporting tool, it is a platform. Of course using new media should never be high on a list of priorities for journalistic skills. New media is not a ‘thing’ to be learnt like interview skills and video shooting. New media ia a medium where skills are applied. So by using new media you’re not learning new media but learning to apply skills without relying on the slim chance of being employed in a traditional newsroom. The modern journalism CV should not have “I can use Twitter and Facebook” on it but your CV should be online links to what you have done, along with the audience you have reached through fostering your own news platform. New media is an opportunity to show what traditional skills you have applied to the real world. That is why it is so important.

I’ve come specifically to the Open Knowledge Conference for the track on data journalism (although I’m very interested in the open data scene anyway). It was a call to action more than an educational exposition. Data journalism doesn’t have a set path nor definition which is why there’s a lot of journalism falling under the term ‘data journalism’ that are, underneath it all, very different species. Just as mathematics is composed of a ranges of disciplines yet most people encounter it as one overarching topic.

I’m having an amazing time in Berlin and I’m sure I’ve consumed more than I can digest in terms of data. But here are some points I noted from the speakers Simon Rogers, Stefan Candea, Caelainn Barr, Liliana Bounegru and Mirko Lorenz, which I’ve added my thoughts to here:

1. “There needs to be defined long-term goals for data journalism training as the field has widened” – I believe that the different disciplines are becoming evident as tools with wider uses are being tinkered with (I wouldn’t go so far as to say adopted), more so than the field has widened. I do not believe in long term goals either. To evolve into a specialist species one has to adapt to ones environment. Now the data environment is changing at a web rate which is far too fast for long term goals.

2. “It’s about stories AND words – it’s just another source” - Old school journalism used to rely on a network of sources. Data journalism relies on a network of resources. So all journalism today should rely on a network of sources and resources working in tandem, working together, in sync. Old school journalism applies today just as it always did. You need to be able to read and rely on the validity of your sources. You need to understand their agenda and their limitations. In the same way you need to be able to do all these things with data and the resources you are working with.

3. “Data for journalists is a great resource but not the golden bullet” – I agree. The golden bullet is the journalistic mindset. The ability to spot something that isn’t right, that shouldn’t be. This is one characteristic but with data journalism you’re using the other side of the brain. The ‘training’ that is needed is to learn to use your other numerical side as a resource also. If you don’t have a well tuned journalistic mindset you won’t be a good data journalist and I fear this mindset is being left at the door when journalists approach data (especially when being trained) because using the left hemisphere of their brain is so alien to them they feel they’re in a completely different microcosm.

4. “Not doing data journalism is not an option” – This was mentioned in reference to online journalism. I’m not sure I quite agree with this. I think there’s a lot of institutions where doing data journalism isn’t an option. For future survival, you’d be amazed how much traffic can be generated by a saucy picture and a splashy headline. Combine it with a social media savvy policy and you’ll find the serious side of data journalism will easily go amiss. Most news institutions are doing some form of superficial data journalism in the form of infographics or interactives. Javascript developers are quite common in the corner of the newsroom nearest the coffee machine, servers and exit. Social media has changed the way we view news but this did not come from within the journalistic institution. The change will only be implemented from the inside if it is pushed from the outside. This is why I am interested in open data. This is where I see (and hope) a symbiosis will form.

Who?

Open Knowledge Foundation

What?

‘Open’ knowledge is any material – whether content, data or general information – which anyone is free to use, re-use and redistribute without restriction. They promote the creation, dissemination and use of open knowledge in all its forms, from genes to geodata, sonnets to statistics.

When?

Thursday 30th June – Friday 1st July, all day

Where?

Kalkscheune,
Johannisstr. 2,
10117 Berlin,
Germany (see map)

Why?

All the big names in Open Data will be there with tracks including ‘Data Journalism: What Next?‘ and ‘Open Data in the newsroom: How should a workflow for data-journalist look like?‘. There will be hands on workshops that whole week with hands-on scraping via ScraperWiki. Sign up here.

Who?

Hacks/Hackers London

What?

Journalists call themselves “hacks,” someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code. Hacker-journalists try and bridge the two worlds.

When?

Wednesday, 22nd June 2011 at 07:00 pm

Where?

The Shooting Star
125-129 Middlesex St
London E1 7JF

Why?

James Ball, from The Guardian, will be talking about complex topics made comprehensible by infographics; network analysis showing the secret influencers behind-the-scenes (a technique central to exposing extraordinary rendition), and more. James, a data journalist working on the Guardian’s investigations desk, will draw on data from WikiLeaks (where he worked on the embassy cables), Ghost Plane, and more – takes a look at four of the best data analysis tricks, and when their use might confuse, mislead or even kill your audience.

Neil Smith, an ex-police officer and fraud investigator-turned private investigator and trainer, will be running through some of the tools and advice he has collated on his internet investigation site Open Source Intelligence, as well as explaining some key ways to use social media to dig up information.

Who?

Hacks/Hackers London

What?

Journalists call themselves “hacks,” someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code. Hacker-journalists try and bridge the two worlds.

When?

Wednesday, 25th May 2011 at 07:00 pm

Where?

The Shooting Star
125-129 Middlesex St
London E1 7JF

Why?

Kevin Marsh, Director of a new journalism education venture, OffspinMedia, will be giving a talk entitled: “It’s time we gave news audiences what they need, not what they want”.  He argues that the more traditional journalism chases what news audiences want, the less it delivers what they need to play an informed, decisive role in determining their own environment and futures. How in a world of social networking and real-time feedback do journalists deliver what communities need, rather than what individuals want?

Glyn Wintle will be giving a talk entitled: “Hacking for Good – White Hats and Web Security”. He makes a living from technical consulting, programming and
security work. He will be explaining penetration testing, ethical hacking, and why telling the world about serious security problems in common software is a good idea.

Data Journalism in the City

Posted: May 12, 2011 in Events
Tags: , ,

Who?

The Centre for Investigative Journalism - advances education for, and public understanding of, investigative journalism, critical inquiry, and in-depth reporting and research

What?

Summer School – a three day event with talks and practicals running in parallel so you’ll always find something to interest you. Book here.

When?

15th – 17th July 2011, starting each day at 09:00 am and finishing at around 05:00 pm

Where?

College Building
280 St John’s Street
City University London

For map and directions see here.

Why?

With stories from WikiLeaks dominating the news agenda over the last year, the main strand for summer school 2011 will be whistleblowing. In a practice both praised and condemned, WikiLeaks aims to challenge secrecy and hold governments to account.

But it didn’t start with WikiLeaks and the school will bring some of the best- known “whistleblowers” to tell their stories. As a journalist you will learn about protecting sources and how to advise potential informants on securing their information and staying anonymous. A speaker from WikiLeaks will deomonstrate their tested methods of protecting sources, winning legal battles and preparing redactions.

The school will also look at the issue of taxation and how the big corporations avoid large tax bills by moving their profits to offshore tax-havens. At a time of massive cuts, layoffs and collapsing public services we will show you how to investigate the way companies legally protect their profits.

The school will illustrate what happens when you knock on the door of offshore accounts, how to differentiate between tax avoidance and tax evasion and how the rich hide their fortunes and minimise their tax bill.

The school will draw upon a recent, major investigation into a multinational company and examine what it revealed about its tax-havens around the world.

The third strand will look at digital journalism - has social media given rise to an army of citizen journalists who are undercutting paid reporters? Or can new technology make it easier to hold powerful organisations to account? Paul Lewis, Special Projects Editor at the Guardian, will reveal how he has used Twitter and other techniques to collaborate in hard-hitting investigations.


Who?

London Hacks Hackers run by the lovely Joanna Geary from The Times.

What?

The worlds of hackers and journalists are coming together as reporting goes digital and Internet companies become media empires.

When?

Wednesday, 27 April at 07:00 pm

Where?

The Shooting Star
125-129 Middlesex St London E1 7JF

Why?

Neal Mann, from Sky News, will be talking about reporting from a live event using social media – tools, tips and tricks of the trade and Paul Rissen, Senior Information Architect for Drama & Entertainment at the BBC,will explain more about how linked data and and the semantic web could be used to create narrative.

Who?

Digital Editors Network

What?

A two-day workshop for those who value turning data into stories with impact. Sign up here.

When?

Thursday, 19 May at 9:30 AM - Friday, 20 May at 5:00 PM

Where?

100 Broadway
Media City
M502UW Salford
Manchester

Why?

Because you’ll learn:

  • Collaboration tools for the newsroom team
  • Customizing search-and-retrieve data tools
  • Extracting data from documents
  • Data cleaning and formatting
  • An elementary introduction to scraping web sites for data
  • Using web “cloud” tools to clean and display data
  • Most important, how to tease meaning and STORIES out of data and then tell those stories in multiple ways

And the following will be there to teach you:

Who?

Hacks/Hackers London

What?

Meetup

When?

Wednesday, 23 March at 07:00 PM

Where?

Artillery Arms
102 Bunhill Row
Nr Moorgate, EC1Y 8ND

Why?

Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, and Ben Campbell, programmer at the Media Standards Trust, will be talking about Churnalism.com and journalisted.com – the design and creation of media monitoring platforms. They will speak about how both sites fit into the Trust’s broader aims of making online journalism more transparent and will also be launching their new “manifesto for transparent online journalism”.

Matt Curtis, art director of Eureka – The Times’ monthly science magazine – explains the process the team went through to create The Times’ first standalone iPad application about how the science of sport is changing the human race.