Knight Center
Knight Center


How journalists can use data dumps

In an era of WikiLeaks and open data, journalists need to be prepared for how to handle massive information releases, writes Martin Moore for Idea Lab.

Moore offers five questions journalists should ask themselves the next time they receive a data set:

How do we harness public intelligence to generate a long tail of stories?
How do we make it personal?
How can use the data to increase trust?
How do we best -- and quickly -- filter the data (and work out what, and what not, to publish)?
How can we ensure future whistleblowers bring their data to us?

C.W. Anderson of the Nieman Journalism Lab wrote that reporting with data dumps represents "something new in journalism," as "a focus on the aggregation of a million 'on the ground reports'... might sometimes get us closer to the truth than three well placed sources over a nice off-the-record dinner."

Data dumps are both a "great" and "perilous" moment for journalism, according to John McQuaid of True/Slant. Journalists must do more than just post the data, he said. Instead, they must interpret it and craft it into a story with context that readers can understand.


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