Loads of imagination about programming has been running helter-skelter in my mind before I step into the spacious and well-polished Spectrum studio on the 11th floor of an office building at Sheung Wan in this bright Saturday morning. As someone who has been concentrating only on courses about liberal arts since senior school, I always consider coding as something far away from my daily life.
But today, Chico Xu, Ivy Wang and I, as student reporters, are going to take a glance into this sophisticated business which we once thought was irrelevant to the lives of us and the lives of many, but which actually is, and to a large extent.
The event we are attending is called the Global Pandas Documentation Sprint, a worldwide event held simultaneously in more than 300 countries on March 10, 2018, aiming at improving this Python library’s documentation with clearer explanations and better examples, and trying to leave, at the end of the day, with the library enhanced “in a perfect state,” as put by its official website.
The hope for pro-democracy camp to regain its veto power in the legislature vanished as Edward Yiu Chung Yim failed to beat his rival Vincent Cheng Wing-shun in last week’s by-election.
Legislative By-election 2018 was held on 11 March for four vacant seats in the council, following after the oath-taking saga which disqualified six councilors. New legislators were elected from three regions – New Territories East, Kowloon West, and Hong Kong Island, as well as Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency.
Election is all about numbers – voter turnout rate, numbers of votes, and percentage of voters supporting candidate A or B, making it a golden opportunity for data visualization. In this article, we select three local news media, which are Initium, SCMP, and HK01, to discuss their different coverages on the by-election.
Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. In the year of 2018, more than 400 cities simultaneously organise hackathons on Mar 3. According to one Hong Kong organiser, Bastien Douglas, most local organisers of ODD are government affiliates. In Hong Kong, communities like OSHK and ODHK lead the organisation every year. One highlight for ODD-HK-18 is the talk from Jessica Lo, the system manager from OGCIO responsible for the open data portal: data.gov.hk
It is time to break-down the broad concept of “data journalism”. When talking about the combination of data and news, we usually refer to two processes, sometimes conducted in an integral manner. One process is to discover news points from datasets. The datasets can provide a lead for further investigation. The final product does not necessarily reflect the usage of data. It may look the same as normal news products mainly composed of interviews and photos. This is called “data mining” in the science domain. Another process is to present news points using data. There come to all kinds of charts and interactive/ immersive presentations. This is called “data visualisation” in the science domain.
Let’s focus on the “data mining” part in this article. That is to discover news from datasets, or more precisely discover a news lead from datasets. The further development of the entire news story may take much more efforts with a combination of traditional and modern methods. For easier discussion, we treat “news” in the general form: something the audience does not know before reading, a.k.a, something that “appears new”. It could be the status update of a current affair, or it could be the “new knowledge” to the readers (probably be “common knowledge” to experts which we don’t want to waste time debating).
As advocated by the “Road to Jan”: the most profound theory takes the simplest form. As a first step, we try not using programming, or even sophisticated spreadsheet skills. One can readily find some “news” with a bit “nose for news” and be computer literate is good enough. In this article, we will demo a few news points mined by our undergraduate students from Hong Kong government data portal: https://data.gov.hk . It took around 20 minutes in the second class of a data journalism course. We start with a public dataset from the portal, check out the data tables and eyeball if there is anything interesting. The process is so quick that we would like to give it a brand name: Lightning News. One can sharpen his/her news sense and data sense by doing this as daily exercise.
The term “Curator” was traditionally used in the context of museums, library, gallery and art exhibitions. It general refers to the person who creatively plan and well organise resources to maximise the utility for the audience. The process that a curator gets the job done is thus “curate”.
TLDR readers, here are the sites that worth your visit:
Aimee Edmondson is now an Associate Professor with Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University. HKBU students are very lucky to have this knowledgeable and passionate speaker to talk about data journalism this afternoon. Her 12 years in reporting and later acquired statistics and technology are a fine combination for a data journalist. In the world where people are too fascinated by new technology and numerous boot camps are created by non-journalists, Aimee can be a role model for those “traditional journalists” who are moving in this direction.
Why does data matter? In Aimee’s words, you want to be a reporter, not a repeater. Data helps one to verify what the source is saying and find out what is really happening. To be pragmatic, we are seeing more and more JD requiring data analytics skills from investigative reporters. Going beyond the journalism domain, the skills trained by data journalism can well fit into corporate communication, public relation and advertising industry.
Picture: Job boards on IRE, from the slides
To start, one only needs to work on “small data”, with a spreadsheet.