Sep 12, 2012

Find out exactly what will be happening at #DJCamp2012 with Megan Knight

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Earlier this month we spoke to the #DJCamp2012 co-host Megan Knight to find out the kind of invaluable data journalism skills will be on show when UCLan plays host the event on the 21st and 22nd of September. With a far spanning data journalism  career, Senior lecturer Megan Knight is no stranger to the art of scraping, scouring and churning out data to produce compelling stories and engaging visuals. She talks about her experience in the field and what will be on offer at #DJCamp2012.

What can we expect at DJCamp2012?
"The workshop covers the basic 'whys and wherefores' of data journalism, from why it's an important part of journalism to finding information in data form by looking at sources of data. On the second day, we will be looking at representation and actually working with data that has been found, to develop publishable data journalism material in whatever form it may take. We’re going to be focusing specifically on Google fusion tables, which is a publically available tool from Google, and in particular, mapping, which is invaluable in terms of developing things like interactive feautres where you can gather data from your readers and then represent it. So the workshop goes from a kind of conceptual workshop with discussions about what data journalism is and why it’s important, throught to practical hands on projects."

Are there optional workshops?
"There will also be a free optional workshop with ScraperWiki, which will look at the process of scraping data. This is essentially the process of finding and analysing data, cleaning it and reworking it in order to put it into the right forms and the right formats."

What do aim for participants to achieve by the end of the workshops?
"We aim that participants will be able to find and present data by the end of the workshop, not just in an abstract sence of 'here’s a sample of what you would do', but in a concrete sence of actually finding something that’s relevant to what it is they're currently working on, and then working through the workshop with that data. So the real goal at the end is to have projects that people can return to newsrooms with to develop it further and actually publish. So the idea is to really make it very hands on, very practical."

So before you entered the world of academia, you were a data journalist?

"I think I’ve been doing data journalism since before we called it that. One of my previous jobs was working on election coverage and census coverage in South Africa. We worked with scientists and programmers to showcase election results and look for correlations and changes between voting patterns, changes in the demographics, and development issues. We were working with these massive data sets of information to present stories about South Africa and stories about the country beyond the simple, 'Thabo Mbeki is going to be president' which was the case in 1999, to patterns in peoples voting, and fundamentally, stories about change. I looked at how we could correlate that what we knew about demographics, about income, about education, about language, facilities and services and so on with voting behaviour.
"That’s really, to my mind, an important part of journalism because it gives you a way into stories that weren’t necessarily the stories people wanted us to tell. Data is to me, not about numbers, but about the hidden patterns that numbers can make visible. To me, that was really interesting and since then I’ve always been very interested in data and information. Now I'm also interested in social media, the kind of information that’s available on the internet and also in collaborative data (projects where people tell you, as a news organization what is going on in their environment and you then map that). I recently finished a book on the impact of social media in journalism which incorporates a lot of information about data journalism, about crowdsourcing and things like that. So this workshop really fits in with my interests which I'm hoping to develop further and do more with."

The Digtial Editors Network (DEN) has combined forced with the MADE Project at UCLan to present two linked data journalism workshops on 21 and 22 September at the Media Factory in Preston.
DJCAMP2012 is a two-day workshop hosted with Paul Bradshaw and Megan Knight. The workshops will cover the key stages of data journalism, from spotting leads for data stories, to finding the data in the first place, interrogating it, and visualising it.
Over two days, aside from gaining practical advice, participants will have the chance to apply their learning through hands-on exercises with the help of international-recognised digital journalism leaders and trainers provided by the Digital Editors Network and the MADE project.
Scraping Master class is a four-hour workshop with ScraperWiki founder Julian Todd, 9:30-13:30 on Saturday, September 22 and will cover a range of topics from creating data extraction programmes to analysing existing datasets.
MADE blog followers can recieve a 30% registration discount by using the code DENdata

For more information and to register, visit:

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