Philip Meyer: "After personal computers with user-friendly software became common, using a computer wasn't such a big deal. But the term CAR, for computer-assisted reporting, is still used today to describe what I prefer to think of as the application of scientific method to reporting."
"The [European Commission's Open Data Strategy for Europe is] to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies."
"Ministers, officials and journalists need to be on their guard when misusing statistics after [Andrew Dilnot,] the new chairman of the UK Statistics Authority warned he would name and shame offenders. ... Speaking to MPs on Tuesday, he cited a calculation error on a front-page news story which suggested public service pensions cost every family in Britain £4,000 a year, when the real number was £360. When asked by the FT why he had not been willing to identify the miscreant – the Daily Telegraph – in his evidence session in parliament, Mr Dilnot insisted this was the last time he would be so reticent."
Jens Finnäs: "Every year in the beginning of [November] the [Finnish] tax records from last year are published. In other words: you get to know who made the most money. Every year the Finnish media outlets do a very conventional presentation of this material. Page after page of lists of top-earners. Rarely does anyone do anything more creative with the data. ... This is my first visualization in Raphael.js. Previously I have been working with D3 and Protovis, but the weak browser support of these two libraries is becoming a growing concern."
"Facebook’s research tells us about the links between a large sub-group of humanity – but it doesn’t say anything about what these connections mean."
"[The] problem wasn’t so much collecting the data in order to analyse it, but getting the data cleaned up and into a format that made it ready to be analysed. He also made the point that you should pick your story and then get the data to support it, rather than the other way around."
Tony Hirst: "we need data press officers as well as data journalists. Their job would be to put together the tools that support the data churnalist in taking the raw data and producing statistical charts and interpretation from it. Just like the ministerial quote can be reused by the journalist, so the data press pack can be used to hep the journalist get some graphs out there to help them illustrate the story."
Arthur Sulzberger talk at LSE Polis, with some interesting points about innovations in how New York Times journalists use social media.
"When enquiries to individual companies failed to persuade them to disclose the information, we submitted complaints to Companies House, forcing companies to re-file their annual returns with the information included, and sparking Vince Cable to announce the launch of an investigation. ... Having compiled a full set of subsidiary listings, ActionAid was assisted by company information specialists www.duedil.com to process the data into a useable format. The annual returns, which in most cases were available only as scanned PDF files from Companies House, were converted to text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, after which extensive corrections were made."
Great news of the revival of one of the best local data projects: "[we] are now hard at work building PlanningAlerts into OpenlyLocal"
Nicolas Kayser-Bril: "We need to convince journalism schools to teach math in a purpose-oriented fashion. As Gigerenzer said in a 2010 conference, students are taught trigonometry but how to understand risks properly is overlooked. Decision-makers in J-schools and media companies need to realize that data in itself without better numeracy skills will not lead to better journalism. To tell true facts to their audience and to build trust, journalists need to gain the skills to understand and interpret data."
"Data journalism is not new: the very first Guardian - or Manchester Guardian as it then was - in May 1821 contained a table of data. For the first time, we've extracted that table so you can see it for yourselves. ... The data would seem uncontroversial today: a list of schools in Manchester and Salford, with how many pupils attended each one and average annual spending. It told us, for the first time, how many pupils received free education - and how many poor children there were in the city. In today's world of Ofsted reports and education department school rankings, this list would not seem unusual. In 1821, it caused a sensation. Leaked to the Guardian by a credible source only identified as 'NH'"
"The Boundary Commission for Scotland (BCS) has said it will publish shapefiles of its initial proposals for constituencies after the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) was criticised for not doing so."
"The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has defended its decision to release more than 500 pdf maps of proposed Parliamentary constituencies, stating that they believe they provided "an appropriate level of detail". ... The decision was criticised by data journalists at the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph for lack of transparency, after the BCE did not provide a more user-friendly single UK map of the new constituency boundaries."