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A Tour Of Aleph, A Data Search Tool For Reporters

In a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all others. To those who see it, it presents the entire universe at once -- an investigative reporter's dream. Over the past six months, I've been working for OCCRP to produce a tool named after this mythical object. It's based on a prototype I hacked up as part of my 2014 Knight International Journalism Fellowship, and it has now grown into a data research tool as part of the Investigative Dashboard.

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Top Ten #ddj: The Week’s Most Popular Data Journalism Links

What's the data-driven journalism crowd tweeting? Here are top links for July 7-11: Our World in Data (@MaxCRoser); narrating networks (@JWYG); sentences off the grid (@edwardtufte); FiveThirtyEight's ddj workflow with R (@FiveThirtyEight); Netzwerk Recherche conference video (@spreerunde); & more.

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“Keep Moving Forward” — Ideas for African Media

For the image on her new Twitter account, Congolese journalist Nanythe Talani features part of a quote by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

With Michelle Obama and her daughters recently in Africa to urge more support for girls’ education, it’s a good moment to consider the personal journeys of two African women investigative journalists, Nanythe (Na-NEETH) Talani, and her Liberian colleague, Wade (Wa-DEH) Williams. Their struggles and the challenges that lie ahead personify what the first lady’s trip is about. Obama’s first stop was Liberia. Both Talani and Williams have just spent a transformative year at the University of Maryland on the U.S. State Department’s Humphrey Fellowships mid-career program, learning how they might improve journalism in their countries, discovering tools and techniques they are now eager to put into practice. As they contemplate returning to Africa, King’s advice is on their minds. I spoke with both of them recently to hear more about what they learned in the United States, and what their countries need in order to develop a free and independent media.

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When Virtual Reality Meets Data Journalism

Isn’t the best journalism always immersive? Whether it’s Walter Kronkite’s journalistic take on history “You are There” from the 1950s or Declan Walsh’s mobile phone reporting from Syria in June, the best journalism makes you feel like you are part of the story. You care what happens. Virtual Reality is a powerful tool in making journalism more immersive to its readers and increasingly it’s becoming an essential part of the journalist’s toolkit. There are great examples of reporters using VR, such as the work of VR pioneer Nonny de la Peña, The Guardian’s 6×9 exploration of solitary confinement, or the Berliner Morgenpost’s exploration of life as a refugee.

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Top Ten #ddj: The Week’s Most Popular Data Journalism Links

What's the data-driven journalism crowd tweeting? Here are top links for June 23-30: Brexit data (@webk1d & @timesredbox); Aleph data search tool (@pudo); spatial data (@enjalot); digital startups & human rights (@dw_akademie); humanizing data and Mexico's missing women (@gijn).

Xinjiang

China’s Environmental Journalists Shine Despite Dark Times

Over 100 outstanding Chinese journalists have received prizes in the six years that our awards have been handed out. During this time we have seen for ourselves the decline of the news industry – but also seen many fine journalists bucking that trend by carrying on the baton of journalistic ideals and professionalism. Journalism has never been an easy job, and those who possess the ideals and the strength of character of a good journalist will flourish even in the hard times.

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A Poor Journalist’s Text-Mining Toolkit

How can you search and analyze collections of documents on your own computers with simple tools? At DataHarvest, Robert Gebeloff and I ran a workshop to answer that question. As people were seemed interested, here's a write-up of the two key tools we worked with: Apache Tika for content extraction and regular expressions in Sublime Text as an advanced search tool.