Finding & Using Data

March 5, 2014|Posted in: Readings


News Apps:

As data journalism continues to find its way into the newsroom, news apps with supplemental data take on larger roles in the mobile news world. In order to create a worthwhile, successful, long-lasting news app, it is important to know your users and focus on what they want. When developing a news app, ask yourself these questions before jumping in:

  • Who is my audience, and what are their needs?
  • How much should I spend on this?
  • How can I take things to the next level?

“News Apps 2.0, where the industry is headed, is about combining the storytelling and public service strengths of journalism with the product development discipline and expertise of the technology world. The result, no doubt, will be an explosion of innovation around ways to make data relevant, interesting and especially useful to our audience–and at the same time hopefully helping journalism do the same.”

Getting Data:

There are tons of way to find and access the data you’re looking for. When searching for data, be sure to streamline your search with keywords in order to maximize results. Data can be found through online databases, data sites and services, and traditional Web searches. You can also reach out to online communities to help you find data on specific topics. Additionally, you have the right to submit an FOI to government agencies in order to get the data you need.

Open Data:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, compares the need for searchable documents of the past to today’s need for searchable data. “For data, as for documents, the value of any part of the web is increased by the amount of other stuff out there. For documents it is the ability to follow links, but for open data it is the ability to also interconnect and join, to summarise and compare, to monitor, extrapolate, to infer.”¬†According to Lee, the age of open data is just in its infancy, and further progress with open data will benefit both developed and undeveloped countries.

Data Literacy:

Journalists need to be able to understand, interpret, and analyze data accurately before they can use it effectively and package it well. As data journalism continues to grow throughout all organizations, being data literate is necessary in order to gain a competitive edge at work and deliver the best results.¬†“Journalists, editors and publishers who make an effort to become data literate may be able to demonstrate a competitive advantage to the communities they serve–and, indirectly, to funders, sponsors or advertisers.”


  1. Does anyone in class have a favorite news-related app? Which one, and why?
  2. Why is using/requesting an FOI called “wobbing”?
  3. What are the negative implications of worldwide open data?
  4. Does anyone know of any data journalism classes for professionals offered by UT or ACC?
  5. Are people who don’t vaccinate their kids born stupid? Or do you think it’s some type of learned ignorance? Idiots.