At the end of last week, NPR’s On The Media show spoke to Texas Tribune reporter Matt Stiles and Duke University computational journalism professor Sarah Cohen about how to find good stories in a “sea of government data”.
Listen to the full interview below:
Journalism.co.uk will be looking at open government data and the skills needed to find stories in datasets at its upcoming news:rewired conference. See the full agenda at this link.
Government information architect Martin Belam has an interesting post about some of the limitations of the recent government data release, particularly the difficulty of – and cost associated with – cross-referencing the data with Companies House records.
I’d love to be able to get an instant snapshot of how many of these companies are large, medium or small enterprises. Over time you could use that to measure whether the intention to open up Government service tendering to wider competition was on track or not.
Speaking in response to recent releases of data by the UK government, Tim Berners-Lee, father of the world wide web, says:
The responsibility needs to be with the press. Journalists need to be data-savvy. It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you’ll do it that way some times.
But now it’s also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.
The Guardian’s Simon Rogers writes a timely post on the potential of data for journalism ahead of a series of anticipated announcements from Downing Street, likely to start this week, that could give journalists access to more public data from local and national government.
Of all the datasets that will be released, possibly the most significant is something called the Combined Online Information System (Coins). This is basically a list of everything spent at every level of government in the UK. The Treasury has refused FoI [Freedom of Information] requests for it in the past (it is 24 million items long). Now its release is imminent, according to Downing Street sources.
Rogers looks at how this could change the way local government in particular is reported by local media and journalists and non-journalists working a hyperlocal beat.