NICAR15: Finding business data outside of "business" datasets

If you want to uncover business news, never underestimate the power of looking at datasets that don’t look like traditional business datasets.

Speaking in the “Investigating business with data” session at NICAR15, the Wall Street Journal’s Andrea Fuller and CNBC’s John Schoen provided a wealth of examples of stories written using not only traditional business datasets like the SEC's Edgar and FINRA but also non-traditional business data sets such as Medicare.gov.

Datasets like Medicare.gov greatly aided the Wall Street Journal’s investigation into Medicare fraud. While Medicare might not be the first place one would look to uncover a business story, doctor’s offices are businesses. So are hospitals.

In another example, the WSJ used oil and gas data to map out oil routes along various states. Companies are required to report how much oil it moves through each state. Using this data and ArcGIS, the WSJ mapped out oil routes across counties in various US states.

Another reason to look at non-traditional business data sets is to remember that non-profits are not always charities. The NFL and the NCAA have been the center of many big business stories within the last year and both are non-profits.

There will definitely be times when the data will be proprietary, expensive or unstructured. Fuller writes many data scripts using primarily Python to solve these problems.

Schoen, who has been covering economics and financial news for more than 30 years strongly emphasized that one should never go looking at a dataset with a conclusion in mind. Data analyses must be conducted and then the story should be looked into further as opposed to writing a story and then cherry-picking numbers to support the story.

With a reporter’s mindset, access to wide range of data sets, and some web scraping skills, you are on the track to uncovering interesting business news.

Latest Posts

  • With the 25th CAR Conference upon us, let’s recall the first oneWhen the Web was young, data journalism pioneers gathered in Raleigh

    For a few days in October 1993, if you were interested in journalism and technology, Raleigh, North Carolina was the place you had to be. The first Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference offered by Investigative Reporters & Editors brought more than 400 journalists to Raleigh for 3½ days of panels, demos and hands-on lessons in how to use computers to find stories in data. That seminal event will be commemorated this week at the 25th CAR Conference, which...

    Continue Reading

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • Prototyping Spatial Audio for Movement Art

    One of Oscillations’ technical goals for this quarter’s Knight Lab Studio class was an exploration of spatial audio. Spatial audio is sound that exists in three dimensions. It is a perfect complement to 360 video, because sound sources can be localized to certain parts of the video. Oscillations is especially interested in using spatial audio to enhance the neuroscientific principles of audiovisual synchrony that they aim to emphasize in their productions. Existing work in spatial......

    Continue Reading

  • Oscillations Audience Engagement Research Findings

    During the Winter 2018 quarter, the Oscillations Knight Lab team was tasked in exploring the question: what constitutes an engaging live movement arts performance for audiences? Oscillations’ Chief Technology Officer, Ilya Fomin, told the team at quarter’s start that the startup aims to create performing arts experiences that are “better than reality.” In response, our team spent the quarter seeking to understand what is reality with qualitative research. Three members of the team interviewed more......

    Continue Reading

  • How to translate live-spoken human words into computer “truth”

    Our Knight Lab team spent three months in Winter 2018 exploring how to combine various technologies to capture, interpret, and fact check live broadcasts from television news stations, using Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant device as a low-friction way to initiate the process. The ultimate goal was to build an Alexa skill that could be its own form of live, automated fact-checking: cross-referencing a statement from a politician or otherwise newsworthy figure against previously fact-checked statements......

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More