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Data Driven Journalism - Telling Stories Online
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Data Driven Journalism - Telling Stories Online


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  • 1. Telling Stories With Data “The Data is Dead! Long live the Data!”
  • 2. #ddj #ejc
  • 3. Alan McLean • @alanmclean • Art/Design/Development background • Worked at 2005-2007 • Working at the NYTimes in 2007-Present • Afghanistan War Logs • 2008 Election • 2008 Olympics • 2010 Olympics • Guantanamo Docket • Document Viewer • Run-Well • more... Dom Data:
  • 4. Interactive News Technology @
  • 5. Interactive News Technology @ Eric -
  • 6. The old newsroom/developer relationship Developer Journalist
  • 7. The new newsroom/developer relationship Developer/Journalist
  • 8. Use the web to tell a story, not just as a delivery medium.
  • 9. Newsroom Tools Developing at close to newsroom pace is now possible
  • 10. Journalism Saved!
  • 11. It’s almost too easy... • Lots of tools, often free or very affordable. • Progressive Enhancement. • An unlimited supply of “pages”. <3m
  • 12. Data Dumps Large collections of source material that aim to inform, but ultimately over-saturate.
  • 13. Data Dumps “ Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” Dr. Ian Malcolm Jurassic Park (1993) via @kevinq, Graphic Editor at the NYT
  • 14. Data Dumps “ If you won't find narratives in the data, you might as well be posting the phone book.” @harrisj via Twitter
  • 15. Why are data dumps a problem? • Fail to inform clearly. • It’s very easy to get lost. • They take up precious time. • They are usually low impact. • Often bland.
  • 16. It’s far too easy to distract or confuse an already compromised online attention span.
  • 17. Editing is crucial online • Should we be doing this? • What is the point? • Will any of our readers/users care? • Is this going to be a core component of the story, or merely supplemental?
  • 18. Design Decisions Are Editorial Statements
  • 19. The Afghanistan War Logs <5m
  • 20. The Afghanistan War Logs • Three publications with access to the data under a release agreement. • 90,000+ incident reports. • Spans several years of the conflict in Afghanistan. • A lot of metadata...
  • 21. The Afghanistan War Logs What can we do with this data? • Data Dives! • Maps! • Timelines! • Charts! • and so so much more...
  • 22. The Afghanistan War Logs What should we do with this data? • Aggregate representations of the reports were out. • Maps needed to be “Locator Maps”. • Timelines? Yes. • Incident Charts? • Story integration? Yes! Context was needed. • Could not publish them all... redactions were necessary.
  • 23. The Afghanistan War Logs The Package • 3 articles. • 1 note to the readers from the Editor. • 1 background article on the data. • An incident report interactive. • A page tying it all together.
  • 24. The Afghanistan War Logs Locator Maps The Article Timeline • Lead with a Map • Removed the ads • Flopped the columns • Forced a single page view • Relevant maps and photos Photos/Maps were loaded alongside text • Stylized report text within article Incident Report Text
  • 25. The Afghanistan War Logs The Maps
  • 26. The Afghanistan War Logs Context
  • 27. The Afghanistan War Logs Context
  • 28. The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
  • 29. Real Titles Stylized NYT Redactions The Jargonizer Real Summaries The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
  • 30. The Afghanistan War Logs / The Series Page