I didn’t see participants wringing their hands and worrying about the future of journalism. They’re too busy building it.
The event is well-summarized by another conference attendee, Anthony DeBarros, senior database editor at USA Today:
The conference is a place where news nerds can gather and remind themselves that they’re not alone in their love of numbers, data analysis, writing code and finding great stories by poring over columns in a spreadsheet. It serves as an important training vehicle for journalists getting started with data in the newsroom, and it’s always kept journalists apprised of technological developments that offer new ways of finding and telling stories. At the same time, its connection to IRE keeps it firmly rooted in the best aspects of investigative reporting — digging up stories that serve the public good.
Read the full conference report here, and check out the first two interviews in Alex Howard’s new series profiling data journalists.
The Long Form Developer: Originally an aspiring long form writer, Pro Publica’s Dan Nguyen says,
With data journalism techniques, there are countless new angles to important issues, and countless new and interesting ways to tell their stories… It just happens that programming also provides even more ways to present a story when narrative isn’t the only (or the ideal) way to do so.
The Elections Developer: the New York Times’ Derek Willis emphasizes how data can help journalism fulfill its promise of public services. He says,
We live in an age where information is plentiful. 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 and news apps] really force you to think about how the reader/user is getting this information and why. I think news apps demand that you don’t just build something because you like it; you build it so that others might find it useful.