What about data journalism?

For me, digital journalism is the same as data journalism. Of course there are a number of downsides to the digital era. If there’s only one government checking my where abouts on the web, it is a little. But since I’m from the Netherlands, living in Belgium there’s at least two governments checking up on me. Those two, including the UK-government (I’ve been reading the Guardian), and the US, that makes four.

Then there are also corporations like Google and Facebook, trying to make a profit out of my personal information by selling it to whoever is willing to give money for that info.

But why privacy should be protected is another issue. When your personal preferences are out on the digital street, waiting to be picked up by a shady party for profit or repressive purposes, you might as well want to take some advantage of it yourself.

You only need to know how. Myself, I bought a book called ‘Handboek Datajournalistiek’ (Handbook Data Journalism). Because AP is making an attempt to drown its students in work, I haven’t had time to dig into it deeply. But for now, this is what I’ve picked up from it.

More and more databases are digitalised. Before you start investigating a matter, you need to know if the information you’re looking for exists. A way to find out is: find a form. Especially government institutions have forms for everything. And often they are easy to download. When the information you’re looking for is being asked about on the form, the institution handing out the form, surely has the information. Sending e-mails and making calls is a great way to get behind databases that aren’t accessable via the internet. And make sure you are aware of the right of publicity.

The bitch is that the info you eventually get, might not me cathegorized. But that is the challenge in data journalism I think. And sorting everything out might take time and might not be the exciting action you’d hoped for you would experience in your life as journalist. But the information you can get from these numbers in these databases might be the story you wanted to write from the beginning. You just mightn’t have expected to use excel.

How to sort out the information and all the other technical difficulties. I couldn’t tell you just yet. If, by any chance I get further into the matter. I’ll be blogging.

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