Free handbook helps journalists use data to improve the news

Posted by pt91 at Apr 27, 2012 11:55 AM |
University of Leicester academic contributes to publication
Free handbook helps journalists use data to improve the news

Dr Farida Vis of the Department of Media and Communication.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 April 2012

Photograph of Dr Farida Vis available from

The Data Journalism Handbook is a free, open-source book that aims to help journalists to use data to improve the news. It will be launched on Saturday 28th April, at Italy’s leading journalism event, the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, which attracts thousands of journalists from around the world for a week of talks and workshops.

Now more than ever, journalists need to know how to work with data. From covering public spending to elections, the Wikileaks cables to the financial crisis - journalists need to know where to find and request key datasets, how to make sense of them, and how to present them to the public.

The book is an international, collaborative effort involving dozens of data journalism's leading advocates and best practitioners - including from Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, Deutsche Welle, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Helsingin Sanomat, La Nacion, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, Verdens Gang, Wales Online, Zeit Online and many others.

Jonathan Gray, lead editor for the handbook, says: “The book gives us an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at how data is used by journalists around the world - from big news organisations to citizen reporters. We hope it will serve to inform and inspire a new generation of data journalists to use the information around us to communicate complex and important issues to the public.”

In the Data Journalism Handbook, Dr Farida Vis from the Media and Communication Department at the University of Leicester has written a section on how The Guardian Data Store used data journalism in their coverage of the last year's riots. She was one of the original contributors to the Handbook at the Mozilla Festival, where the project started, and highlights:

“Data driven journalism allows for the possibility of new stories to be discovered in large data sets, for different insight through data visualisations, for better storytelling and for more people to get involved in the process. Moreover, in working on data sets with academics, data journalists can further benefit from the additional analytical insight such collaborations might produce. The work on how rumours spread on Twitter during last summer’s riots, a collaboration between The Guardian and a group of academics, is a good example of this. I very much look forward to expanding my own work in this area.”

Dr Farida Vis is Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester and lead social media researcher on the ‘Reading the Riots on Twitter’ project, a collaboration with The Guardian that examined 2.6 million riots tweets. Her forthcoming book, Researching Social Media, with Mike Thelwall will be published by Sage. She will speak on social media and social change at Future Everything this year.


Notes for editors:

 *   The Data Journalism Handbook is an initiative of the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

 *   The book will be freely available at under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License. Additionally a printed version and an e-book will be published by O’Reilly Media.

 *   Over 2000 people have signed up to get the handbook so far.

 *   Coverage on Guardian Datablog:

 *   Table of contents:

 *   Overview graphic:

 *   Cover graphic:

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