“It doesn’t matter which country you’re in, or what university you visit, there’s a common refrain that you’ll hear in the halls of J-schools across the globe: “I’m not good at math”.
Of course, this aversion often leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. If students don’t think they’re good at numbers, they avoid them altogether. Yet, to find and accurately report on stories in today’s data intensive society, journalists need these skills.
This calls for a reconsideration of journalism programmes around the world. Teachers need to ask themselves: What are the most relevant strategies to equip students with the skills required for finding facts in datasets? To understand them? To scrutinise them? And to communicate them to the public in the most appropriate and understandable manner?
Over the entrance to the Los Angeles Times headquarters hangs a banner with the newspaper’s promise to the world: REAL JOURNALISM, REAL IMPACT. When I visited in April 2018, the paper was still quietly situated in its historic downtown Los Angeles headquarters, right next to the City Hall and the Grand Park. Three months later, the paper moved out of its historic downtown building to a facility near Los Angeles International Airport, bringing itself closer to the rest of the nation in the latest episode in a series of ownership changes that have been going on for decades. I went there in search of a pair of data journalists, Doug Smith and Ben Welsh, who relayed to me a remarkable story of the evolution of data journalism in recent decades.
(Aaron Mendelson at his KPCC desk in Pasadena, California. He was interviewed by Roselyn Du of Hong Kong Baptist University in February 2019 for his data journalism works.)
Aaron Mendelson can usually be found working on one radio broadcast or another in his office at Pasadena, California. Where most journalists work with verbal content, Mendelson also concerns himself with data analysis. He is thankful to his master’s degree from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He said the data skills that he is now using at work for Southern California Public Radio’s data journalism and interactive projects are mostly learnt from there. Continue reading “Aaron Mendelson: Would numbers work with radio?”→
(Matt Carroll interviewed by Roselyn Du and her students at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2018)
Matt Carroll was in Hong Kong in October 2018. He was invited to be a keynote speaker for the week-long Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop (PPWW) held at Hong Kong Baptist University. The rooms where he spoke were always more than full, with some people having to stand at the aisles or sit on the floor.
At this year’s GEN (Global Editors Network) summit, Google News Initiative shared their notes regarding data journalism resources, particularly for investigative research and verification by online forensics. Here are some excerpts and we get a copy from Google News Lab, which you may find the complete notes attached at the end.
Google Public Data Explorer provides public data and forecasts from a range of international organizations and academic institutions. Visualized data are ready to interpret.
Google Trends compares search terms in a country and timeframe of your choice.
In the past 70 years, Airplane has been an important tool for people to travel long distances. According to IATA annual report In 2016, the major aviation accident rate was 0.39, which was equivalent to only one major accident happen in every 2.56 million flights. This seemingly safe number is built on countless blood and sweat. Step down and turn back a little bit, let’s count the successes and failures in the flying history.
Yearly how many planes crashed? any trend? how many people were on board? how many survived? how many died?
How the distribution of accidents between military and passengers? any insights?
The highest number of crashes by operator and type of aircraft. The relationship between operators and types of airplanes?
Find the airline routes with most accidents and try to find the reasons.
Find any interesting trends/behaviors that we encounter when we analyze the dataset.
History of airplane accidents
Count of accidents by Year
Form the picture, we can see the total accidents trend from low to high before the 1970s. After that, there are some small peaks around 1990 and 2010. But the overall trend after 1990 is gradually going down.
At the beginning of 20 centuries, 1903, Wright brothers invented plane. In 1909, French hold a big flight competition, which threatened the England and other European countries. Even there were many problems with the current planes, the military can’t wait for using it in war. The first time of airplanes’ appearing thus was in Italo-Turkish War. The power of airplane attracted other countries’ military, which leads a huge development in the military aviation industry. From 1914, the first world wartime, airplane mainly used for investigating, transporting, and some peripheral things. At the time of world war II, which is around 1940. Airplanes had widely used in battle. At the same time, World civil aviation organization (IATA) established in Havana, the capital of Cuba in 1945. In 1978, Cater, the president of the USA, signed meaningful a law in the history of American aviation legislation, which is <the airline deregulation act>. The establishment and merger of companies in the US domestic aviation industry, route selection, fare establishment, and even loss-making operations, are basically out of government control and intervention. The number of airplanes grows up fast with the high possibility of air crash occurred. The other reason we consider is that airplane technologies that at that time had weakness and need to improve. With the technologies completed, the amount of air crash will decrease. These situations are obvious after 2000.