Over the past year an acceleration in the trend of utilising data as both a visual illustrator and investigative source has been taking place. Expanding from its initial niche, journalism based on the analysis and visualisation of statistics has started its nascent steps into the mainstream of global media. The launch of the Data Journalism Awards will play a key role in this transition, suggested Wilfried Ruetten, director of the European Journalism Centre.
“This makes [data-based journalism] more feasible. Especially for decision makers who take an interest and start to provide more of the necessary training,” he added earlier today on the sidelines of the press conference held earlier today at Google’s UK Headquarters.
The Award, with a prize fund of €45,000 and now open for submissions, is part of a joint effort by the EJC, Google and the Global Editors Network, to recognise excellence in worldwide data journalism and build upon it by highlighting best practice within the field. The awards will be divided into three categories covering investigative data journalism, data storytelling and data based web/mobile applications.
“There are less people in traditional newsrooms,” pointed out Bertrand Pecquerie, chief executive officer at the GEN, adding that the time and skill requirements for investigative journalism have, over the past decade, led to a reduction in the amount of work being undertaken as budgets strings have continued to be tightened. However, Mr Pecuerie predicted that data journalism would reinvigorate the industry across the board – bringing a new range of techniques and workflows into common usage.
The Guardian’s detailing of the recent riots that rocked the UK is one of many in an increasing range of innovative data journalism projects that have come from larger news organisations. However smaller communities are also deploying both innovative and effective data-based initiatives to answer urgent challenges. Safecast, a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements, is one such example.
Created just over a week after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, the Safecast team continues to co-ordinate a range of volunteers measuring the levels of radioactivity, recording them and associated location data. The gathered data is then visualised in various forms to increase public awareness of prevailing radioactivity levels – all while Japanese government officials were hesitating over the release of official data.
The awards will look to reach both of these groups by encouraging companies, students, individuals and hyper-local data enthusiasts to submit their work.
Expectations for the quality entries are already rising. However, like the growth of data driven journalism itself, submissions are likely to outperform. Entries close on the 10th of April and The Data Journalism Awards jury will announce the prize winners on the 30th of May at the News World Summit in Paris, France.