Posts Tagged ‘good’

Numerical analysis sounds boring to most and way too complicated to nearly all news organizations. But the advent of multimedia and interactives means that facts and figures can and should be made accessible and exciting. Here is a TED talk using simple Power Point. The topic and research are so affective that I am just gripped to my computer screen. A good use of data which goes to show that news agencies are just plain slow on the uptake.

As Information is Beautiful shows, there is a lot being done with data at academic institutions. At the moment there is a strong push by the data mining community to get government data out into the open but academic data is, I think, the real diamond in the rough.

If you are working with academic data or want to let me know. Follow @DataMinerUK

Numerical information is becoming more and more important in news reporting. This is not only due to interactive web abilities (I’ll write another post on this) but because big news is news of scale.

For instance, the floods in Pakistan are now being put into context with figures. The number of people suffering from the massive floods in Pakistan exceeds 13 million — more than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,  the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the United Nations said Monday (09/08/10). These figures are headline news even though it’s not new. We’ve just been given new context.

The scale of disasters are usually revealed in the aftermath. The clean up. That point in time when news cameras tend to move on. When donations tend to peter. But putting an ongoing disaster in terms of recent ones where images are fresh in people mind and scale is concretized in a pocket of their cerebral lobes is an effective way of getting people to give and keeping the story in the news (which is obviously the UN’s agenda).

It’s a shame that news organizations don’t just do it on their own. It’s not that hard. In fact, I’m going to give it a try! But data of scale generally come from press releases as in this case. DIY data is the niche of a few good news orgianizations.

For instance, check out this visualization from the ever impressive Guardian Data Blog. Not only does it give a good comparison of the amount of money donated, it gives the funding per head of population. Because generosity is not just how much you give the how much of what you have that you can give. I also like the prettier (i.e. not just circles) Weather Crisis 2010 map.

Pictures truely paint a thousand words but interactives make 3D movies. And the best data is shared data! Thank you Simon Rogers.