The Data Journalism Handbook

How Journalists Can Use Data to Improve the News
Edited by Johnathan Gray, Liliana Bounegru, and Lucy Chambers
O’Reilly Media, Inc.

The Data Journalism Handbook, O'Reilly Media, Inc. cover photo

The Data Journalism Handbook is a series of case studies and practices that have employed data to either create or complement existing news stories. Data journalism is a relatively new fork of the journalism field. This book is intended to be a useful resource for those with an interest in data journalism. Defining data journalism can be a bit difficult. One way of looking at it could be the combination of journalism’s traditional role of finding and reporting news stories with the added feature of access to a vast array of digital information. Often this digital information consists of facts and or numbers in a raw format. Using existing or custom coded software is required to distill the digital information into a usable form. Working with the data can augment a traditional journalism story or possible give foundations to new stories that would not have been known had the data not been examined in depth. Data journalism can help the journalist tell an interesting story through the use of info-graphics, or it may result in the development of a news app.

It has long been said that knowledge is power. Data journalism is a tool that will help the public harness knowledge and hopefully will be empowering to us all. I found this book to be an enjoyable read. It has many links to various on-line examples and does a good job of explaining processes and techniques used by data journalists. I would recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in journalism. In an era when Twitter and Facebook opinion polls dominate local evening newscasts, it is refreshing to see that real journalism is still alive and there are individuals using modern tools to find and present the stories that can impact all of our lives. The book lists case studies of how data has been used both as a tool and as the story itself. Several modern news organizations share their process and team structures with overviews. The book has a good flow, I read it in chapter order and found the material to be both engaging and informative. It is a collaboration from numerous authors and, as such, provides various viewpoints from multiple continents and cultures.

Disclosure: I recieved a free e-book copy for review purposes.

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