Really good data journalism will help us untangle the truth from… prejudiced assumptions.

But this is data journalism that needs to stay the course, and seems like an ideal opportunity to do “long-form data journalism”. How long will these looters serve? What is the ethnic make-up and age range of those convicted? How many other criminals will get an early release because our jails are newly full of looters? How many people convicted this week will go on to re-offend?

Martin Belam,, “Riots are an opportunity for long-form data journalism

Belam writes that England’s riots are an important opportunity for data journalism to prove its worth over the long term.

That said, he cautions that data gathered from and during the riots will skew overall numbers because of the spasm of activity which, in turn, could lead to more problems:

There can be genuine social consequences to the misinterpretation of data. If the postcodes in Enfield become marked as a place where crime is now more likely as a result of one night of violence, then house prices could be depressed and insurance costs will rise, meaning the effects of the riots will still be felt long after broken windows are replaced.

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