Hello data, and hello summer!


Some have touted data journalism as the salvation of investigative journalism, the domain of geeks and number-crunchers or a tool for large newsrooms with many specialized staff members to devote to data mining and harvesting. (Are there still large newsrooms like that left today?)

In our cover story, “The data journalism revolution,” Diane Sylvester argues that reporting based on data should not be left to large metro newsrooms but can be accessible by everyone today. Data-driven projects have received many awards and have been publicized as effective methods of uncovering the hard truths and holding the powerful to account.

Running a data-centered investigation can be intimidating for a small newsroom staff struggling to report the basics to their community. We could have written an entire magazine just about accessing public records, which is the basis of many data journalism projects. However, as you’ll read in our cover story, there are resources out there that are explicitly directed toward smaller publications without specialized data talent.

Cheryl Phillips, the founder of Big Local News at Stanford University and one of Sylvester’s sources, agreed that even the smallest newsrooms can benefit from data journalism. She stated, “Journalists are great at asking questions. And that’s really what data journalism is. You’re just interviewing the data to look for patterns and outliers. It’s just a different style of interviewing as well. I think it’s really doable for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of expertise. They just must be willing to ask questions about the data.”

Our cover story article aims to speak to news teams who think data journalism is out of their reach. There are resources, information and people to help you get started and places to go if you need help along the way. Technology is here to help us inform our communities, and data journalism is another method we can use to do our jobs more effectively. We’d love to hear if any of the ideas, strategies or organizations mentioned in this article are helpful to you to get your “data ball rolling.”

On another note, happy arrival of summer. I hope you’re enjoying whatever summer pursuit you look forward to. You’ll find me in my garden harvesting the overabundance of radishes I planted this spring. And to everyone celebrating Pride this month, we have some articles for you. Whatever the summer sun brings to your mind, revel in it. We’ll be right there with you.

Robin Blinder is E&P’s editor-in-chief. She has been with E&P for four years. She can be reached at robin@editorandpublisher.com.


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