6 months ago
Monday, November 9, 2015
Mark Horvit: "Every Single One of You is Data."
The journalist, Daniel Gilbert, was able to track the money and get thousands of local residents royalties. Gilbert was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work and then was offered a job at the Wall Street Journal (where he worked for 5 years before moving on to the Seattle Times last month).
"He couldn't have done that without taking our workshop," said Mark Horvit, the executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, speaking of the IRE bootcamps. "He couldn't have done that without understanding how to use big data."
Mark defined data as, well, everything.
"Every single one of you is data," he told the class. "Everything you do turns into data that all these companies monetize."
When you use your phone, when you log into a computer, when you purchase goods, you leave a trace.
Time, words, images are video are all a part of the data system, he said, things we can analyze and process and turn into news stories. Sports stories are all about data.
Journalists have used data to find where potholes are filled (or not), where crime occurs most frequently and where bridges are in need of repair. A news team at a television station in California used data to determine that $77 million in small business loans were actually going to major corporations, like Oracle and Microsoft.
"It's an outrage story, Mark said. "It's the little guy being crushed by the big guy."
And it might not have been told unless a reporter studied the raw data, created a spreadsheet and added up the numbers.
Journalists have been using data and data visualizations forever, Mark said. What's different today is the amazing wealth of data that exists.
Rather than blindly accepting information from official statements or press conferences, journalists can dig through the raw data themselves.
"If things don't sound right to you," Mark said, "you, as a journalist, can go ahead and test stuff yourself."
What stood out for you? Do you see how data could be useful to you as a journalist or citizen?