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#Tip: Test your online journalism law

November 20th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists, Training

Image by Alex France on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Every day this week Paul Bradshaw is posting a legal dilemma on the Online Journalism Blog to allow students to test their online journalism law knowledge.

The test may be aimed at students but is a useful exercise for all journalists.

Bradshaw will be live tweeting a discussing on Friday between 10am and noon (UK time), using the #ojblaw.

Need an online media law refresher? We will be running a one-day course in February. The date is not yet fixed but email Sophie Green if you would like to receive details when available.

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#Podcast: How small newsrooms can make an impact with data journalism

October 18th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Podcast
Image by Arbron on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by Arbron on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

No matter how small your newsroom, or how scarce your resources, data journalism is far from off the agenda.

In this week’s podcast, those who have walked in your shoes share some pointers for staying ahead of the data game, offer some time-saving tips and recommend free tools to help you along the way.

We speak to:

  • Nicolas Kayser-Bril, co-founder and head of Journalism++, who gave this presentation on ‘frugal data journalism’ at the Digital Journalism World conference last week
  • Paul Bradshaw, who leads the masters in online journalism at Birmingham University, is a visiting professor at City University and runs the Online Journalism Blog where he recently posted some thoughts on the subject of efficiency in data journalism
  • David Ottewell, head of data journalism, Trinity Mirror
  • Kathryn Torney, journalist, The Detail
  • Esa Makinen, data journalist, Helsingin Sanomat
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#Tip: Advice on improving process of data journalism

September 10th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Top tips for journalists
numbersdata Flickr Dave Bleasdale

Image by DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

On his Online Journalism Blog, journalism academic Paul Bradshaw is part-way through a collection of five tips on how to make the process, or “workflow” of data journalism more efficient. His advice includes ways to help find data in the first place, such as by creating “data newswires”, and using bookmarking to keep track of useful material. Bradshaw published his third tip today, looking at how to “anticipate problems”.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Tip of the day for journalists: How to get data out of council budget reports

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Top tips for journalists

Image by Dave Dugdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved

If you are a reporter for a local newspaper, site or radio station you will no doubt be tasked with looking at council budgets reports.

If you have not tried getting data from PDFs to spreadsheets, this guide written by university lecturer Paul Bradshaw and published on Help Me Investigate is a must read.

Bradshaw includes links to lots of useful tools.

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#Podcast: Examining data-driven health reporting

February 15th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Podcast
Image by a.drian on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by a.drian on Flickr. Some rights reserved

This podcast looks at how health data can be a source of stories.

We hear how journalists are using information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, scientific reports and open data as sources. technology editor Sarah Marshall speaks to:

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Search for open government data

January 31st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Search, Top tips for journalists
magnifying glass Flickr Ivy Dawned

Image by Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Here’s a tip from Paul Bradshaw, academic and the journalist behind the Online Journalism Blog and Help Me Investigate:


Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 16.33.12

He suggests using Google advanced operators to search sites with the word ‘open’ in the URL.

Want to take your online research to the next level? Take a look at this one-day course which teaches advanced online research skills.

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#PPAdigital: Paul Bradshaw’s five principles of data management

September 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Events

At today’s PPA Digital Publishing Conference, Paul Bradshaw, publisher of the Online Journalism Blog, visiting professor at City University, London, and course leader for the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, talked about data both in terms of data journalism and data analytics.

He set out five principles of data management.

1. Data is only as good as the person asking questions

Bradshaw said that whether the data is from analytics and used for commercial purposes, or whether it’s editorial data and you are doing an investigation, “the key thing is to have questions to ask” of the data.

That should drive everything, rather than you being led by the data.

2. Data can save time and money

Bradshaw is frequently told that data journalism is resource-intensive or a publishing company does not feel it has resources “to do data stuff”.

But he argues that data saves time, does not have to cost money or rely on having a team of developers.

He explained that people he has trained find they learn computer techniques to do things that they previously did manually.

They might scrape websites very neatly into a spreadsheet, they may pull data from an analytics package into spreadsheet, they might visualise that dynamically – and that all saves time.

You might prepare for a big event by having spreadsheets set up or feeds set up or triggers.

3. Data is about people

There can be a danger of becoming “bogged down in the data”, Bradshaw warned. “But really stories are told about people and to people.”

He advises taking “a step back from that data” to find “the people that it is telling a story about”.

He said that in the case of data journalism, that is about finding case studies; in the case of analytics you can use the data to create profiles or pictures of the people who are using your site.

4. Good data is social, sticky and useful

“If data is going to be useful it needs to have a point, people need to be able to do something with it,” Bradshaw said.

People may share it socially, he explained. And it becomes “sticky” if it allows people to spend time exploring it.

5. You can be driven by the data or driven by the story

“Sometimes you are getting data passively and you are looking for stories in it, sometimes you are seeking out data because of the story or lead or question you have,” Bradshaw explained. And that comes back to his first point. “It’s really important to have questions” rather than to be “passively driven by the data”.

And Bradshaw demonstrated how his principles make “a lot more sense” when you replace the word ‘data’ with ‘journalism’.

  • Journalism is only as good as the person asking questions
  • Journalism can save time and money
  • Journalism is about people
  • Good journalism is social, sticky and useful
  • You can be driven in journalism by the source or driven by the story

Listen below to hear audio of Paul Bradshaw setting out his five principles of data management:

Paul Bradshaw leads data journalism courses for The next course is on 5 December. There are details at this link.


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#Tip of the day from – learn from the Olympic torchbearer study

August 6th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Last month we reported on the launch of the first Help Me Investigate ebook, which details a study of the allocation of Olympic torchbearer places.

The platform, set up journalism academic Paul Bradshaw, has used crowdsourcing and other methods to analyse the 8,000 people awarded the honour of carrying the Olympic flame across the UK.

The Guardian helped gather responses to Help Me Investigate’s list of “mystery torchbearers”.

On the Online Journalism Blog, Bradshaw has today posted the second of a two-part post explaining how the study was carried out. Today’s post looks at verification, the usefulness of Google Alerts, how SEO meant that others could find details of the project, as well as the benefits of working collaboratively.

Today’s post and the first-part are well-worth reading and provide tips on online journalism research techniques.

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Guardian Developer Blog: Journalists compile a Christmas wish list for developers

December 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

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The Guardian Developer Blog has posted December’s “Carnival of journalism” round-up, after asking “what journalists and programmers might exchange as presents during the festive season”.

It’s well worth a read to find out the wish lists of some key people interested in the space where journalism and technology meet.

Journalism lecturer Paul Bradshaw’s “fantasy” Christmas list includes wishing for the ability to cross link in ways to make journalism more transparent.

One item on his list is the ability to:

Add contextual information on any individual mentioned in a story, for example a politician who receives payment from a particular industry.

Another is for journalists to be able to:

Give users critical information about the source of particular information – beyond “Pictures from YouTube”

This idea got the thumbs up from the post’s author Martin Belam:

Jonathan Frost at Wannabehacks also warmed my heart by concluding that “User experience should be the next big thing in journalism and development. Don’t leave the designer out in the snow.”

Belam’s article with links to all related posts is here: December’s “Carnival of journalism” round-up

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#Tip of the day from – nine new data tools

August 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

On his Online Journalism Blog Paul Bradshaw rounds-up some of the latest data-related tools to crop up in recent months. His useful list includes data scraper Junar, data sharing platform BuzzData and data finder DataMarket.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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