Data journalism City University Magazine MA 3 March 2011
Data matters You may not think data plays a massive role in journalism, but it does. From the Wikileaks files, to financial, political journalism - and even consumer journalism too - data helps you tell stories. Some things are too big for you to explain in words alone Two sides to this: Getting the data and Visualising it (that’s what we do next time)
“The new data techniques used in this Guardian investigation begin to tackle the problem: using an automated script coded by ScraperWiki, all the separate all-party register entries are pulled into one document, so the data can be analysed to give a fuller picture.”
“the key thing here is to learn how to solve your own problems. Asking a tutor should be your last resort - they will not be there for the rest of your life!
Task 1: Use advanced search techniques to find data for a journalistic question Identify a question you have - or a set of data that may be useful. Failing that, have a look at GetTheData.org and try to answer one of the questions there. Use Google's Advanced Search facility to narrow down your search. Try the following:Limit by filetype:
filetype:xls will restrict results to Excel spreadsheets;
.police.uk - police websites, including British Transport Police, the Met and others
Limit by website:
site:bolton.gov.uk will further limit results to just one website, rather than all local authority websites.
Likewise site:city.ac.uk would only return results from City University's website
You can limit your search further by using quotation marks so that only pages containing the exact phrase are returned, e.g. "annual report" You can also expand it by using 'Boolean' operators like OR, e.g. "site:gov.uk OR site:police.uk" Look up 'Boolean operators' to find out other tricks Combine the above to limit your results - e.g. "deaths in police custody filetype:xlssite:gov.uk" Also try to search for 'database' - the contents of databases are 'invisible' to Google so you're looking for the page that allows you to search it. Try other 'operators' such as + before a search term to ensure it is in the pages themselves, e.g. +custody phrases in quotes, e.g. "deaths in custody" The * wildcard, e.g. "deaths in * custody" The ~ operator for synonyms, e.g. ~deaths