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
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
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!