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Methodology

100 posts

Data Journalism Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

Getting Started in Online, Open-Source Investigations

At First Draft, we frequently receive emails from a whole range of people asking how they can start doing the sort of online open-source investigation and verification that they’ve seen us doing. The skills and methodologies used are all something that can be learnt through a little persistence, but here are a few pieces of advice to get you started.

Data Journalism Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

New Tools Open Up Virtual Reality to Journalists

When Gustavo Cerati, a legendary Argentinian musician and songwriter, was asked to share his best advice for new musicians, he refused—saying instead that “experiences are not transferable.” You may agree or may not with his statement, but if you’ve ever worn an Oculus Rift or a similar virtual reality (VR) headset, you’ll know we are getting closer and closer to transferable experiences.

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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 […]

Data Journalism Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

My Data Is Dirty! Basic Spreadsheet Cleaning Functions

In an extract from his book Finding Stories with Spreadsheets Paul Bradshaw explains how to use basic cleaning functions in spreadsheets to make it easier to combine data, including a case study where the same functions were used to speed up a research process for a story.

Data Journalism Methodology

The People and the Technology Behind the Panama Papers

The trove of files that make up the Panama Papers is likely the largest dataset of leaked insider information in the history of journalism. For ICIJ’s Data and Research Unit, it offered a unique set of challenges. The overall size of the data (2.6 terabytes, 11.5 million files), the variety of file types (from spreadsheets, emails and PDFs to obscure and old formats no longer in use), and the logistics of making it all securely searchable for more than 370 journalists around the world are just a few of the hurdles faced over the course of the 12 month investigation.

Data Journalism Methodology

Investigating Uber Surge Pricing: A Data Journalism Case Study

The story published in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog ended up being about race, but it didn’t start out that way. Nick Diakopoulos, who leads the lab, wrote for the Wonkblog last year with a story on how surge pricing motivates Uber drivers to move to those surging areas, but does not increase the number of drivers on the road as Uber claims.

Data Journalism Methodology

Behind the Panama Papers: A Q&A with ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle

“Hello,” wrote the anonymous source to a German newspaper, “this is John Doe. Interested in data?” Thus began what would soon become an international financial investigation into what are being called the Panama Papers—an investigation so massive that even whistleblower Edward Snowden, on Twitter, called it the “biggest leak in the history of data journalism.”

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How to Save Online Evidence and Why It Matters: Part One

As journalists we are used to saving information. We securely store documents, keep meticulous notes, save and back up important emails on our computers. But what about the information we find online during the course of our investigations?

Data Journalism Methodology

Inside a Pioneering Italian Data Journalism Collaboration

Confiscati Bene, released in mid-December in Europe, is a pioneering data journalism collaboration that digs into the $4 billion of goods in the EU confiscated from criminals by European authorities. An international team of journalists and their allies sought to create a European database of seized assets and answer troubling questions about the accountability of the process. Confiscati Bene (literally, Well Confiscated) received support from GIJN member JournalismFund.eu; the main project can be seen at http://eu.confiscatibene.it.

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Research Desk: Violation Tracker, Road Safety, Biz Regs

We’re back with another Research Desk post. We’ve curated a collection of two new research databases and thirteen new or updated research reports. All of the resources listed and linked below are free to access and use.

Data Journalism Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

On the Ethics of Web Scraping and Data Journalism

Web scraping is a way to extract information presented on websites. As I explained it in the first installment of this article, web scraping is used by many companies. It’s also a great tool for reporters who know how to code, since more and more public institutions publish their data on their websites.
With web scrapers, which are also called “bots,” it’s possible to gather large amounts of data for stories. But what are the ethical rules that reporters have to follow while web scraping?

Data Journalism Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

Web Scraping: A Journalist’s Guide

$8 billion in just a few hours earlier this year? It was because of a web scraper, a tool companies use—as do many data reporters. A web scraper is simply a computer program that reads the HTML code from webpages, and analyze it. With such a program, or “bot,” it’s possible to extract data and information from websites.

Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips Teaching & Training

Environmental Investigative Reporting: Resources & Methods

In this just-released video, investigative reporter Mark Schapiro goes in-depth on how to use investigative techniques in probing often complex environmental issues. Schapiro, a veteran of the original Center for Investigative Reporting, gave this talk in Hamburg at NR15, the July 2015 annual conference of Netzwerk Recherche, Germany’s investigative journalism association.

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The Research Desk: Drones, Cool Tools, Green Companies

The latest tools and resources from the Research Desk: new world of drones databases available, reports from the European Parliament Research Service, Top Green Companies in the World 2015, a handy free extension to download entire pages or individual files, and more.

Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips

Drones in Media Bring New Perspectives, Ethical Issues

We’re already seeing the use of drones proliferate across a whole variety of stories — from incredible imagery of the vastness of the natural world to investigations that couldn’t be told with conventional cameras, to views of the inaccessible right under our noses. So how are the drone journalists of the future being trained for their work?

Data Journalism Methodology

The Research Desk: Tools for Tweets, Domain History, Data

We’re back with another selection of web resources and reports that might be of interest to journalists around the world. On the list this week: new reports from the International Labour Organization, Congressional Research Service, and UK House of Commons; and tools to search domain ownership, load tweets into a spreadsheet, and search open data. Good hunting!

Methodology Reporting Tools & Tips Teaching & Training

Online Research Tools and Investigative Techniques

Search engines are an intrinsic part of the array of commonly used “open source” research tools. Together with social media, domain name look-ups and more traditional solutions such as newspapers, effective web searching will help you find vital information. Many people find that search engines often bring up disappointing results from dubious sources. A few tricks, however, can ensure that you corner the pages you are looking for, from sites you can trust. The same goes for searching social networks and other sources to locate people.

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Online Methods to Investigate the Who, Where, and When of a Person

Online research is often a challenge for traditional investigative reporters, journalism lecturers and students. Information from the web can be fake, biased, incomplete or all of the above. Offline, too, there is no happy hunting ground with unbiased people or completely honest governments. In the end, it all boils down to asking the right questions, digital or not. This chapter gives you some strategic advice and tools for digitizing three of the biggest questions in journalism: who, where and when?

Data Journalism Methodology Research Teaching & Training

What Is Data Journalism — Journalists Offer An “Explication”

The good people at the Journalism in the Americas Blog, who just hosted the always interesting International Symposium on Online Journalism, alerted us to a useful new video, “Data Journalism: An Explication.” Here are journalists doing their best to define data journalism.The video comes from Cindy Royal, an associate professor, and Dale Blasingame, a lecturer, in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University.

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The Research Desk: Tips and Tools

The Research Desk with Gary Price is back, with its second installment, featuring a roundup of new tools — the WHO’s MiNDBANK database, with documents from 170 countries; ePSIplatform, on open data in the EU & worldwide; new UN report on wastewater; NATO archives expand; and the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names.

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Is It Really Investigative Reporting’s Golden Age?

There’s been much talk lately about the possibilities offered by new technologies in opening up restrictive regimes and democratizing the production of journalism. Are we living in a Golden Age of Global Muckraking?

Methodology Teaching & Training

Document of the Day: U.S. Secret Service Contract for “Dark Web” Research

Paper trails have always been of great interest to investigative journalists. Digging into documents can tell a great deal about people, organizations, and what they’re up to. Here’s today’s Doc of the Day, a contract recently filled by the U.S. Secret Service, the law enforcement group charged with protecting the president and other political VIPs. It’s for “Dark Web Data Subscription.” More than 90% of the Web is thought to be unsearchable by Google and other common search engines. This is often called the dark or deep Web, and it includes sites behind firewalls and passwords, unusual formats, criminal and other hidden networks, and lots and lots of databases.

Methodology

When Comedy Meets Muckraking: “Fake” News Gets Investigative

You’ve probably seen the spoof broadcasts of The Daily Show and similar “fake” TV news programs: the realistic sets, the bogus “live” shots from overseas hot spots, the absurd interviews. While steeped in wisecracks and satire, the shows have a hard political edge and often stir controversy. Increasingly, in the absence of serious news from the “real” news media, they also are getting into actual journalism, prompting one scholar to call the phenomenon “investigative comedy.”

Data Journalism Methodology Research

What Is Big Data?

“Big Data.” It seems like the phrase is everywhere. The term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, appeared in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary by 2014, and Gartner’s just-released 2014 Hype Cycle shows “Big Data” passing the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and on its way down into the “Trough of Disillusionment.” Big Data is all the rage. But what does it actually mean? we asked 40+ thought leaders in publishing, fashion, food, automobiles, medicine, marketing, and every industry in between how exactly they would define the phrase “Big Data.” Their answers might surprise you!

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Satellite Images as Proof

In the past week, three stories on three very different issues showed once again how satellite images, until recently confined to the weather report, are now the stuff of front-page news. All three are important stories with wide-ranging implications on public policy. But they also raise questions about the reliability of satellite imagery as proof and the ability of journalists – and their audiences – to make sense of them. Just like photographs, satellite images without context can distort the truth. And like photography, interpreting satellite imagery is as much art as it is science.

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

What’s the data driven journalism (#ddj) crowd tweeting about? Here are the week’s Top Data Journalism Links on Twitter (for May 29- June 6), including items from DatenBlog, the Tow Center, and the London School of Economics, among others.