Monthly Archives: September 2016

Data Journalism

Helloweeni Peeps!

High School.  Hate it or love it, we all share hate for at least one of the “top three things to hate about school”.  What are these three things?  The principal, bullies and a bitch called MATHS.  See, I love journalism, but one of the reasons I chose to study this field was to get as far away from mathematics as possible.  But I ended up meeting her evil twin sister, DATA JOURNALISM.

Let’s Talk Numbers


Business Baby – Let’s talk numbers Image:

Data journalism is asking questions of numbers or proving something that you know is happening and is probably widespread, through numbers.  Data journalism may have a lot to do with maths, but it’s mainly about quantitative research.  But it still sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?  How would one turn a set of dull numbers and spreadsheets into a fascinating story?  See, numbers never lie; the story behind the numbers also extends far deep than just provided stats without a backstory or questions aroused.  For instance, the government says that X percent of of the youth are unemployed and that the numbers have increased over the last five years.  Questions like “How do they measure this?” or “Which specific race is mostly affected?” and “What age range does their definition of youth fall within?” will fatten up your story. And also the changing of measurements of unemployment over the years, meaning that the claim that it has risen over the past five years could be a distortion?

Transparency is the building block of a democratic society.  However, the past few years have seen increased efforts by governments and open-data campaigners to make information available to citizens.  There has been a proliferation of data sets, statistics and portals to those data sets.  While many important data and information are still off limits to citizens, the starting point for any journalist should be the acknowledgement that “data is everywhere”. Government agencies, private companies, nonprofits and think tanks all collect data and produce statistics, and most of the information is now stored electronically.  Ever asked yourself whenever you fill in a form or tick a box, where does that information go?  We create and/or collect data everywhere and everyday, so data journalism is sort of there to ensure data is not collected in vain and to be transparent on the improvements or evolution we are making as a society.

SRC Elections Voter Turnout


Graphic: JOHN McCANN; Data source: UNIVERSITIES

University student elections are an annually exciting experience, and one where the government like to measure how successful they have been and where they are lacking in terms of getting the youth involved in the democratic election process.  Statistics like that provided on the picture above, are needed to inform us of the voter turnout for SRC elections so statisticians can predict how many of the youth might go vote for government election in future.

For once I wrote about something not a threat to journalism whatsoever. There’s hope for journalists after all!  We need not be afraid of number, for no one can deny the factual statistics they may provide.  Mathematics might be scary, but Data Journalism will put whatever scares you may have to bed as numbers do not lie.

For more information on the subject of Data Journalism, check out this video:


‘Till Next Time Peeps, BHA-BHAYINI!

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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


ROBOT JOURNALISM: What Does It Mean For The Industry?

Helloweeni Peeps!

Journalism is a very mighty industry, if not the mightiest (in my opinion).  That is one of the many reasons I have chosen to study journalism.  Journalism has many times been deemed to be on the brink of extinction – seen as a career with a bleak future.  But each time it has pulled through to prove to be an ever-growing and ever-changing industry that always adapts to whatever circumstances.  Journalism has survived the tabloid, the gossip columnists, media moguls and the internet, but it now faces a new adversary – automated reporting (also known as ROBOT JOURNALISM).

The Rise of The Machines


Image by: Biblioteca Pleyades

This robotic evolution of journalism has already begun.  You’ve probably already read a news story written by a sophisticated computer algorithm and never even knew it.  Advanced software programs take financial reports and the latest sports scores and then transform the data into sentences that humans can understand. The finished product won’t win any CNN African Journalist of the Year Award, but it does a decent job of telling the basic story.  The up side for news organizations is that more stories produced at a rapid rate with fewer people to pay.  This mays sound like it’s all doom, gloom and ka-boom for journalists out there, but it really is not.  Every story needs facts, quotes and a personal angle, and such cannot be provided by artificial intelligence.  Automated content is typically used to expand coverage, not replace existing coverage.  Which is why I believe journalism will survive yet again.

The human element in a story, whatever story it may be, will always be needed and vital.  You can’t give a soccer fan stats and not bring up the joyous emotion felt at the stadium after that last-minute goal, not to mention the heated post-match clashes between the coach and the journalists.  How will an automated reporter explain that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” to the general public after reporting an impending financial crisis?  Human journalism will never die, it will just multiply.

Business Opportunity

Businesses like Automated Insights quickly saw the potential in the market.  Their software Wordsmith has been used in the newsrooms of the Associated Press (AP) since july 2014 to produce corporate earning reports.  The AP has praised it to be highly successful as it has cut their working time by 25% and the journalists are now focusing on the true essence of their journalistic duties and the best part about this is that no loss of jobs occured.  The only thing that causes journalists to lose jobs is that journalism industry is changing and journalists who don’t adapt suffer a rapid career death (deservedly so).

There is a super bright light at the end of this tunnel, because I see journalists working hand in hand with automated reporters in the future.  It is clear as day that each one needs one!

‘Till Next Time Peeps, BHA-BHAYINI!

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Helloweeni Peeps!

It’s impossible to imagine civilization without the art of the gathering and transmitting of news, also know as journalism.  I mean, your girlfriend, mom and sister gossip every passing second.  Excuse the blatant chauvinism, just wanted to piss my girlfriend off there.  But anyway, journalism is everywhere and in everyone.  But what is Journalism anyway?  Where does it originate from?

Origins Of Journalism

Acta Diurna image by: The Museum of Public Relations and Library

Acta Diurna
image by: The Museum of Public Relations and Library

The origin of the word Journalism is “Journal” or “du jour” (just irritated myself there, there wasn’t a need for the French) which means day, where all the day’s news or the news contained in the printed sheet.  Before doing my research on where Journalism originated, I just knew that in the very first sentence I will find the word Romans.  Lo and behold, I was right!  The history books always seem to credit the damn Romans with everything.  But anyway, let me calm down and focus.  Journalism comes from Acta Diurna (Daily Events), which appeared in the Roman era, where news and announcements affixed to or installed in the city center at a time when it was called the Forum Romanum.  It was a daily papyrus newspaper.  The Acta Diurna was distributed in locations in Rome and around the Baths. Its motto was “Publicize And Propagate.”  Probably some low-grade papyrus was used for the daily publishing, no doubt one of the reasons that no scraps of the Acta Diurna have ever been found.

If you think typing is hard, try a chisel! Journalists have always had to deal with technology. image: Cartoon Stock

If you think typing is hard, try a chisel! Journalists have always had to deal with technology.
image by: Cartoon Stock


Journalism has rapidly evolved as the years, decades and centuries passed.  The number of active journalists are growing by the second, whether qualified or not, a journalist exists in us all.  There is a little journalistic bone in all of us.  That bit of curiosity that pushes us into investigating the situation deeper so when reporting to an interested ear, it will feel as though they were part of or witnessing the happenings you witnessed.  This is called citizen journalism.  It’s also called  “the threat to journalists.”  It involves regular members of society providing stories, tip-offs, pictures and the like to newsrooms, which can then be published as news (but hopefully no one goes overboard in a Jake Gyllenhaal kind of way).  But fellow journos, there is light at the end of this tunnel as there’s no need to worry, because the members of the public merely provide information-and not necessarily facts-which then enables journalists to further investigate the issue at hand. Citizens are also not taken to task when they provide false statements, meaning that reporters still need to verify the accuracy and newsworthiness of any information that they supply.


Mzansi media and citizen journalism have had quite a rocky relationship.  South Africans generally love journalists and journalism, but don’t say that to Etv journalist Jody Jacobs and cameraman Linge Ndabambi who in 2011 were attacked by violent protesters in Ermelo.  Citizen journalism has bridged the gap between journalists and their audience in varying communities.  Citizen journalists are mandated by their respective communities to research the root causes of their biggest challenges, produce call to action films as a tool to get the community to stand together, find effective solutions and seek support to drive social change.  So if you ask me if citizen journalism has a place in South African media, I say hell yeah it does!  Real everyday stories from real everyday people is what needed for the betterment of our nation as this plays an enormous role in creating informative conversations and conversations of understanding between the people and the media. SA media should definitely care about citizen journalism.

P.S. To all journalists out there, I was kidding when I said citizen journalism is also known as “the threat to journalists”…  Or was I? **evil grin**

‘Till Next Time Peeps, BHA-BHAYINI!


Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


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