Something I’m starting to learn about my desired field of journalism is that journalists don’t just wear a single hat, but many. There are so many aspects, both worldly and job specifically, that cohesively work together in forming a single story.

In chapters 4 and 5, the concepts of data, crowdsourcing and distribution are only some of the many building blocks in this huge infrastructure of modern-day journalism.

Implementation of data:

“Data journalism is about stories; data can be used to tell those stories in more interesting, interactive and comprehensive ways, but data without the story can be dry and off-putting.” Pg. 54, Social Media for Journalists.

It is true that data adds bulk and substance to a story, but its rather difficult beginning with raw facts and ending in a narrative story.

Data is really just a fancy word for information so when you think of it in that context, all journalism is data journalism. This is a relief, but also a worry as I have a hard time with numbers, similar to most journalists. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and explanation of those numbers while trying to write a story.

In the case of big stories where journalists need access about the government, they often end up facing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This can be quite a lengthy process, but usually pays off in the long run.

Heather Brooke, an American-British journalist, fought for four years to obtain financials of certain Parliament members. The data she uncovered after winning her case with FOIA went on to be the basis for the biggest political story of the year. It’s very unlikely that the public would have ever seen the numerical data of that corrupt Parliament if Brooke hadn’t went on the mission of unearthing that data.

http://blog.ted.com/how-freedom-of-information-requests-led-to-a-parliamentary-scandal-read-an-excerpt-from-heather-brookes-book/

There is also the chance of obtaining false data, which is typically done through the use of disinformation, “the deliberate spreading of false information via the media.” Pg. 59, Social Media for Journalists. Data dups are places where random data is leaked, but sometimes this leaked data can be false and very touch to verify due to it being anonymous. A famous spot for this is WikiLeaks.

https://wikileaks.org

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Crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing is one of the many ways to gather data. Crowdsourcing is really cool because it uses the public to get and even share information about the community.

“Getting the local community to report what is happening in their neighborhoods can provide insight and stories, and with the application of some simple technology can provide a powerful source of data, as well as working to increase your readership’s engagement with the news.” Pg. 60, Social Media for Journalists.

A good example of crowdsourcing is the riots in various London suburbs after the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in August 2011. There was so much confusion and chaos that journalists had a hard time following secondary sources and also needed to maintain their safety, so they turned to their readers and received some amazing results.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-18589273

With obtaining all this data comes ways of storing it all, which is done through use of pie charts, maps and spreadsheets with columns. It makes it easier to keep track of and also to make sense of. Graphs and charts are the most common because they demonstrate change and comparison the best.

http://datajournalismhandbook.org/1.0/en/delivering_data_6.html. This talks about how to use various journalistic charts and also provides prime examples.

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Distribution:

The easiest way to define distribution in journalism is simply the reboot. What I mean by this is that the element of distribution has dramatically changed over the years. It used to be that a package would be put together and then distributed- two separate things, but not anymore. Now the journalist is also the distributor because of all the social media outlets in the world and the amazing speed at which to disperse the content. It’s all done simultaneously anymore.

“As journalism becomes more networked, the distribution element becomes much more organic and an intuitive part of the news production process. It no longer stands out as an independent element ‘after’ a news product is deemed complete. The journalist, along with users, is now a distributor. Thanks to networked technologies- and RSS in particular- there is no reason why newsgathering cannot also be news production, or news distribution,” said Paul Bradshaw, pg. 75, Social Media for Journalists.

The use of social media makes the speed of producing and distributing content monumental and an example of this is the reporting of bin Laden’s death. http://www.poynter.org/2011/how-4-people-their-social-network-turned-an-unwitting-witness-to-bin-ladens-death-into-a-citizen-journalist/130724/

Distribution isn’t crucial to only journalists, but publishers too, and search engines are fundamental for journalism distribution, surprisingly. Think about it: how are you supposed to get accurate distribution if the host for that distribution is screwed up? Google is the top favored search engine in the world and content on Google can be viewed and shared, which contributes to a story’s distribution. Bing and Yahoo are other popular search engines.

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