At the end of the year, GIJN compiles a list of its most viewed stories and resources. Here’s the listing for 2020’s top performing stories, including stories on the good and bad of South African journalism, how the global pandemic is affecting Africa’s print newspapers, the year’s top investigative podcasts from around the world, and more.
The Scientific Basis of Influence
Tip 1: You Are Being Influenced
“We are pattern seekers, believers in a coherent world.” —Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman
One of the first things you learn as an investigative reporter is to beware of unconscious biases, including what is known as “anchoring” or “cognitive tunneling.” Neuroscience has shown that we tend to give more value to confirming, and less value to invalidating information. An example is The Invisible Gorilla Strikes Again experiment. Asked to identify lung nodules in CT scans, 20 out of 24 radiologists missed an image outlined in white of a gorilla that researchers inserted in the images, although it was more than 48 times the size of the nodules doctors were asked to identify. In some situations, the stronger the expectation, advantage, or threat of loss, the stronger the impact is on our thought processes — despite the fact that we are convinced of our own objectivity. In the field of health journalism, the risk of falling for appealing though flawed connections is substantial, and its consequences are significant.
The South African investigative site Oxpeckers uses a combination of data analysis, collaboration, and interactive data visualization tools to tell the most compelling stories about the land and those accused of damaging it. From mining to environmental crimes and wildlife trafficking, it has brought investigative techniques to beats like mining that were once the preserve of business reporters.
Africa’s investigative journalists are playing a critical role in unpacking the continent’s expanding pandemic and have already snapped some governments out of their early complacency on COVID-19 preparedness. However, amid warnings about the potential impact of the virus on the continent’s 1.1 billion citizens, four leading African journalists shared strategies for coverage in this critical time in a webinar attended by reporters from 57 countries.
As part of GIJN’s new series, Making Investigative Journalism Sustainable: Best Business Practices, we are featuring a set of key tips from 10 leading journalists and experts from around the world who are either working to build viable organizations around investigative journalism or work as experts to support these enterprises. Here is Emily Goligoski, Senior Director of Audience Research at The Atlantic (US)
See videos from all 10 experts here. Also, check GIJN’s Resource Center sections on sustainability and fundraising to find useful tips and tools, and case studies on all the issues and more covered here. GIJN will continue to expand its work in this area and we welcome suggestions, feedback, and support. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instead of writing an entire behind-the-scenes article to explain how you carried out an investigation, consider instead incorporating this information in the investigation itself in the form of “trust nuggets” to reach more readers, writes Trusting News’ Joy Mayer.
What’s the global data journalism community tweeting about this week? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from November 11 to 17 finds an investigation by The Financial Times uncovering how private health information is being traded online by health sites to big advertisers, The Economist looking at the correlation between Americans’ music preferences and political leanings, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigating the government’s algorithmic decision-making, and the data community coming together to highlight excellent female data journalists.
What’s the global data journalism community tweeting about this week? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from October 21 to 27 finds a panel of leading data visualization practitioners discussing the practice of visualization in an age of disinformation, Kloop exposing how Kyrgyzstani authorities privatized large swaths of a public park with no oversight, and The Guardian highlighting the minimal changes between former British prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with current PM Boris Johnson’s new deal.
What’s the global data journalism community tweeting about this week? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from October 7 to 13 finds The New York Times tackling the topic of auto emissions as a significant climate problem, The Washington Post mapping the colors of America’s fall foliage across the nation, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sharing its newsroom process in data transparency, and Nicholas Strayer offering a tutorial to build your own cool resume using R.
When the Bureau of Investigative Journalism asked to see a contract between property developers and the North London borough of Haringey, its reporters were disappointed to receive a heavily-redacted document. This was part of a drive by the UK nonprofit to test the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which gives citizens and journalists the right to access the accounts and related documents of city councils and other local authorities.