A disaster is no time to try to verify on the fly. It’s not the moment to figure out what your standards and practices are for handling crowdsourced information. Yet it’s what many - too many - newsrooms and other organizations do.
Fortunately, an abundance of tools, technologies and best practices have emerged in recent years that enable anyone to master the new art of verification, and more are being developed all the time.
It is, in the end, about achieving a harmony of two core elements: Preparing, training and coordinating people in advance and during an emergency; and providing them with access and resources to enable them to take full advantage of the ever-evolving tools that can help with verification.
The combination of the human and the technological with a sense of direction and diligence is ultimately what helps speed and perfect verification. Admittedly, however, this is a new combination, and the landscape of tools and technologies can change quickly.
This book synthesizes the best advice and experience by drawing upon the expertise of leading practitioners from some of the world’s top news organizations, NGOs, volunteer and technical communities, and even the United Nations. It offers essential guidance, tools and processes to help organizations and professionals serve the public with reliable, timely information when it matters most.
The online edition is here. ePub and PDF versions are coming soon.
Jonathan Gray, editor of the Data Journalism Handbook, in a Q&A with O’Reilly:
Broadly speaking, “data journalism” is a fairly recent term that is used to describe a set of practices that use data to improve the news. These range from using databases and analytical tools to write better stories and do better investigations, to publishing relevant datasets alongside stories, and using datasets to deliver interactive data visualizations or news apps.
Precisely where one places the emphasis depends on what one thinks is important. This is why in the book we have several sections in the introduction where we’ve asked leading practitioners, advocates and scholars what data journalism means to them, what makes it distinctive and why they think it is important.
Regarding the need for the book: Quite simply, data can help us to answer questions about the world. While it certainly isn’t a panacea, or an objective reflection of the world, data is an increasingly important part of our information landscape. Rather than relying on the analysis of public bodies, public relations agencies, or experts for hire, journalists and their readers should be able to explore, interrogate and critically analyze databases for themselves. The handbook is our attempt to encourage journalists to increase their own data literacy, and hopefully the data literacy of their readers.
FJP: The Data Journalism Handbook is a free and opensource reference guide. Download it here. It’s a very useful resource. We’ve talked about a few other data journalism tools in the past. See some posts here.