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Archive of posts with the category
NICAR

  • NICAR16: They're coming for us: How platforms shape the way we tell stories

    One of the recurring themes of NICAR was how graphics reporters and news apps developers are grappling with new distribution platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP and even Snapchat. There is no one canonical version of a graphic. Instead, you might create different versions of it for different platforms: a fancy D3 interaction for the mobile web, a fun GIF for Twitter and a static image for Facebook Instant Articles. One of the key...

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  • NICAR16: Tackling federal election campaign finance data

    In an election year, NICAR was bound to feature plenty of election-themed sessions.One of the more interesting that I caught was “Election: Reverse-engineering campaign finance stories,” in which Aaron Bycoffe, Carrie Levine, and Derek Willis walked the audience through the steps they took to break various campaign finance stories. Using an open-source parser to find small donations In quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission, candidates must declare how much they’ve raised and spent, among...

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  • NICAR16: A glimpse at an Excel-free future thanks to relational databases

    Some people come to NICAR with goals, whether they were networking goals or technical goals or partying goals. I came to my first NICAR with next to nothing. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, other than it being half a week’s worth of sessions and panels about data, journalism, and everything in between, which it turns out, is quite a bit. One thing I had been meaning to learn for a while, though, was...

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  • NICAR16: Visualization designed for the human brain

    Data visualizations must tell a good story. But even the best stories might get lost in the translation to a chart, infographic, or map and end up in the dreaded WTF Viz hall of fame. In a session called “Information design for the human brain,” BuzzFeed reporter Peter Aldhous and MediaShift metrics editor and curator Allie Kanik highlighted different ways of encoding data and shared their tips and tricks for deciding the appropriate visualization for...

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  • Say hello to Knight Lab at NICAR16!

    Hello, NICAR 2016! We’re Knight Lab, and we’d love to meet you. Find us in person or online throughout the weekend, or at the Hacks/Hackers Colorado Meetup we're sponsoring on Thursday night. Two exciting things: We’re hiring! We’ll soon have a presence in San Francisco! (Though we’re not hiring there.) Can't wait to meet you all! Here's who we are and where we'll be: Faculty and staff Emily Withrow — Faculty Joe Germuska — Director...

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  • NICAR 2015: Machine learning lessons for journalists

    Machine learning is certainly not a new concept in journalism, but it seemed to enjoy plenty of prominence at NICAR this year — fantastic news for newbies to the field like me. I attended several sessions on it, both theoretical and technical, and a few key concepts came up repeatedly. Whether this year’s conference was your first exposure to machine learning, or you’re a seasoned pro, here are four takeaways worth reviewing: Machine learning is...

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  • 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...

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  • NICAR 2015: Jack of all trades, master of none?

    Participants in the NICAR conversation, "The 'hybrid reporter' identity crisis?" posted their official job titles and what they want their job titles to be. Despite the fact that neither drinking nor networking (“You need to be more sure of yourself!” Alex Duner wailed to me after an awkward introduction to his former colleagues) is really my thing, I found myself at the bar of the Marriott Marquis, in a circle of journalists from across the...

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  • NICAR 2015: Space Journalism and Remote Sensing

    Some of the coolest investigations that have been published over the last year have made use of remotely sensed data from satellites in space. Space is cool. And journalism is cool. So surely the combination of the two must be interesting. And while it didn’t involve firing rockets with journalists on them into orbit, a session at #NICAR15 titled “Space Journalism” introduced some really cool ideas about using satellite data to find and tell stories....

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  • NICAR 2015: On the necessity of interactivity

    Data. Interactive. D3. X charts and Y graphs that explain Z. I feel that we’ve reached a point where “interactive” has become an empty buzzword in journalism. It’s amazing how quickly interest and adoption of news apps and data visualization has grown in the last few years (just look at the sheer size of this year’s NICAR conference), but as interactive and data-driven journalism becomes more pervasive, we also need to reexamine the meaning of...

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  • NICAR 2015: Data from scratch — How to crowdsource data

    We know data tells us a lot. We write programs to automate data scraping. We spend hours creating data visualizations that help readers see what they need to see. We use data to make claims and generate stories that are reliable and have impact. Data is important and we seem to be surrounded by it. But that's not quite true. Sometimes, there is no data? A session at NICAR that really resonated with me was Data from Scratch:...

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  • NICAR15: 10 tips to avoid data mistakes in the newsroom

    A big mistake when dealing with data can ruin your day. Luckily there are simple ways to avoid big mistakes and maintain credibility with your colleagues and your audience. At NICAR 2015, a panel of data journalists from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Atlanta Journal-Constitution discussed the road blocks they've encountered when working with data for a story. The panel, moderated by MedPage Today reporter Coulter Jones, featured advice and cautions to keep in mind when dealing with numbers,...

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  • NICAR 2015: Finding the elusive data/prose sweet spot

    Before I become a good data journalist, even an adept data journalist, there is a skill I really need to nail down: balancing data and anecdotes in an easy-to-understand narrative. Super simple stuff, right? Wrong. It’s a skill that I was drilled and tested on in a handful of courses at Medill, but I don’t feel I've reached the sweet-spot where numbers are present, yet not boring facts that most readers skip. Coming into NICAR...

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  • Say hello to Knight Lab at NICAR15!

    Knight Lab brought a big crew to Atlanta and we’d love to meet as many of you as possible. If you’re interested in talking some shop, sharing ideas, or just saying hello, keep your eye out for: Heather Billings (presenting PyCar, an introduction to Python, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday) Joe Germuska Ryan Graff Jordan Young Mallory Busch Alex Duner Anne Li Anushka Patil Luke Rague Kulwant Saluja Ashley Wu Nicole Zhu (facilitating...

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  • The annual NICAR lightning talks have become the highlight of the conference

    Derek Willis welcoming the crowd to the fourth year of lightning talks. Photo by Aaron KesslerWhen the 2014 CAR conference open call for lightning talk proposals was sent out, the session became the one I was most looking forward to at NICAR 2014. Moderated by Derek Willis of the New York Times, each presentation was entertaining, informative and (as advertised), fast. This year they were sponsored by the Knight Foundation, positioned in a primo Friday...

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  • Let's get physical: Discovering data in the world around us

    The world of a data journalist is mired in numbers. Stats after stats, spreadsheets after spreadsheets — gathering, cleaning, and processing data is undeniably a tedious process. They are worthwhile and necessary endeavors, yes, but as a budding journalism student it seems learning all of that process could make developing the skills of the data journalist seem inaccessible. It’s hard to remain invested in a project before its narrative has been fleshed out, when all...

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  • Hack or Hacker? Know when it is appropriate to access data and when it is not

    Attending NICAR14 as a computer science student without a journalism background was an interesting experience, to say the least. Never have I been surrounded by so many journalists (and developers) who were so passionate about data and the tools that can help them attain it. As the journalism and developer worlds are converging and as access to information is becoming ever more important, the question of “when it is appropriate to access data and when is...

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  • Displaying of aggregate info: Dynamic storytelling with Google Fusion Tables

    Slides from "NewsCamp::The next generation of data viz" Alberto Cairo gave the first talk I saw at NICAR. The room was packed. He is the author of The Functional Art, maintains a blog the same name, and has become a highly respected expert in data visualization. Cairo’s talk was titled "NewsCamp::The next generation of data viz," and he made the slides available. Cairo said something that really stood out for me. “We should not focus...

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  • Don't believe your eyes: Learning how to be critical with Alberto Cairo

    A previous version of this story misstated Alberto Cairo's position on the proportion of people who oversimplify infographics. We've removed the number. Read Cairo's take on thinking critically about data visualizations, including his reaction to this piece, here. Not 15 minutes into the first session at my first NICAR conference, I felt utterly mortified. Here was Alberto Cairo, author of “The Functional Art,” telling me the graphic I retweeted not two weeks ago with the...

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  • NICAR14 reflections from a graduating visual journalist

    I joined the relatively large crew of Lab student fellows this past weekend at my first NICAR conference, a crowd of fellow young journalists and I were invited to an “Unsession” about job searching for millennials. .@jeremybmerrill and @sisiwei dropping knowledge on the young'ns pic.twitter.com/tVk5BSoLKv— Lena Groeger (@lenagroeger) March 1, 2014 Jeremy Merrill, an interactive developer at the New York Times, and Sisi Wei, a news apps developer at ProPublica, put the event together to...

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  • Tips, resources for print designers learning web-based, interactive infographics

    For the past year, I’ve been transitioning between my previous background as a print news designer to producing graphics and visualizations for the web. When I planned my schedule for my first ever NICAR, my goal was to attend every data visualization session and panel I could. Four days and over fifteen sessions later, it’s hard to describe the enormous breadth of information I was exposed to, but I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced...

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  • Quick roundup of student sessions at IRE's CAR 2014 conference

    Students flocking to Sisi Wei's & Jeremy Merrill's "jobs and career straight talk unsession", photo by Ted Han. Being a student at a 1000+ people conference full of industry professionals can be an intimidating experience. Based on an unofficial survey, there were roughly 30 college students at the conference from schools around the US, Canada and Denmark. Their majors ranged from journalism and communication to statistics and computer science. While students were merely a small...

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  • Knight Lab team at NICAR 2014

    Hello, NICAR 2014. It’s lovely to see you all again. Knight Lab’s brought a small(large) crew to Baltimore for this year's annual conference. Some of us are old friends and some of us are just dying to get to know you. So, please, don't be shy. Reach out and say hello! Student fellows: Alex Duner (freshman, developer, journalism) Tyler Fisher (senior, developer, journalism) — Find Tyler at the student brown bag lunch and from 3-4...

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  • Numbers and narrative: A computer scientist at NICAR

    NICAR 2013 was my first journalism conference and, as a computer scientist, I can't help but wonder what the implications are of this unprecedented NICAR showing — the largest ever attendance at the conference. The world is changing, to be sure. We are no longer in an age where it is okay to be afraid of mathematics. Everyone from the worlds of journalism, government, and business must become math savvy and computer literate. Today, even some...

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  • NICAR Lightning Talks: A round-up

    Undoubtedly the most attended session at NICAR 2013, the Lightning Talks provided a delightful relief from the heavier (thought certainly worthwhile) information-laden talks that make up the bulk of the conference. Eleven journalists took on the challenge of presenting a topic of their choice in five minutes or fewer. It was lighthearted and fun, but concise but valuable. There’s a rumor that a video of the talks will appear sometime soon (and pictures have surfaced),...

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  • Spreadsheets bridge gap between developers and reporters

    This is my first NICAR, but someone mentioned that NICAR 2012 was “The Year of the Map”, with panels, tutorials, and discussion otherwise centered around new, exciting tools like Mapbox and Leaflet. We invented new terms like BoyerMaps and used the rest of the year to make some incredible map-based news apps. If NICAR 2013 has a theme among its divergent, widely varied sessions, it is the resurgence of an antiquated tool: the spreadsheet. From...

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  • Highlights from NICAR's Year in CAR presentation

    This morning’s Year in CAR presentation at NICAR 2013 provided a great look back not only at some of the great investigative work of the last year, but also some really good visualizations and presentations. The full slide deck from Mark Horvit and Megan Luther’s presentation should be on the IRE site soon, but below are some of my favorites from their list of 2012 data-driven highlights. Click through for some of the great work...

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  • Knight Lab gears up for NICAR

    On Wednesday the Knight Lab will head to Louisville for NICAR. It’s the biggest gathering of our tribe and we couldn’t be more excited. The schedule is stacked with sessions on everything from data visualization to basic Python programming to building news apps with Django. A few Knight Lab staffers and faculty will add their insight to the mix at the following sessions: Mobile + DataViz: Friends or Frenemies: Miranda Mulligan will talk about data...

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