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The Art and Science of Data-driven Journalism | Why Data Journalism Matters

Tow Center for Digital Journalism: “While it’s easy to get excited about gorgeous data visualizations or a national budget that’s now more comprehensible to citizens, the use of data journalism in investigations that stretch over months or years is one of the most important trends in media today. Powerful Web-based tools for scraping, cleaning, analyzing, storing, and visualizing data have transformed what small newsrooms can do with limited resources. The embrace of open source software and agile development practices, coupled with a growing open data movement, have breathed new life into traditional computer-assisted reporting. Collaboration across newsrooms and a focus on publishing data and code that show your work differentiate the best of today’s data journalism from the CAR of decades ago. By automating tasks, one data journalist can increase the capacity of those with whom she works in a newsroom and create databases that may be used for future reporting. That’s one reason (among many) that ProPublica can win Pulitzer prizes without employing hundreds of staff. “We live in an age where information is plentiful,” said Derek Willis, a journalist and developer at the New York Times. “Tools that can help distill and make sense of it are valuable. They save time and convey important insights. News organizations can’t afford to cede that role. Data journalism can be created quickly or slowly, over weeks, months, or years. Either way, journalists still have to confirm their sources, whether they’re people or data sets, and present them in context. Using data as a source won’t eliminate the need for fact-checking, adding context, or reporting that confirms the ground truth. Just the opposite, in fact. Data journalism empowers watchdogs and journalists with new tools. It’s integral to a global strategy to support investigative journalism that holds the most powerful institutions and entities in the world accountable, from the wealthiest people on Earth, to those involved in organized crime, multinational corporations, legislators, and presidents.”

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