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Join the data convo at PBS NewsNav

Posted by on Nov 23, 2010 in Blog, pbsnews.org | No Comments

When I last spoke about my new shiny data journo job in the outskirts of DC known as Arlington, I said it was a dream come true. A month later, I stand by that statement, and say I couldn’t have imagined just how great it would be. I now even have teammates, and we have a name: NewsNavigator.

Being around DC is fantastic, too. I love keeping up with journo friends in the city IRL, and I’ve made a bunch of new ones. I imagine this will continue. My love of coming together as a community and doing my day job combined this weekend at PubMediaCamp, my first unconference experience and a truly fantastic one (Thanks Andy Carvin, Jonathan Coffman and Peter Corbett for organizing!) It was great to get feedback from those who work at, and consume content from, local stations across public media about some of the ideas that have been swimming around in my head.

But I want more! We need to get the public back in public media! Ideas may sound good in our Crystal City offices, but we want to float them by the public we serve. That’s why I’m toying with ideas liking open-sourcing actual customizable applications for anyone to use, to get information to more people. (Yes, you heard right. We have strong interests in open sourcing as much of our news viz/application content as possible, frameworks, embeddable viz, the whole shebang.) I’m also exploring best practices and cool stuff being done, especially in public media. It should be a conversation.

Bottom line: The Data Producer infiltration of our PBS NewsBlog starts today. That’s not posting about why data journalism is important, there was a firestorm yesterday about that. Why have we not established this?

Moving on, we’re talking about getting this done. It’s posting about how to do it, from nuts and bolts, to best storyforms, to who’s doing it right, to what others are curious about, to potential projects and behind-the-scenes looks at what’s happening at PBS NewsNav. (And finally, my posts will have an editor, presenting too many horrendous typos from making their way in here. — Hi Joel!)

No RSS feed yet on our first iteration, but I’ll put out posts here linking to everything I write there. And of course, it’ll be on Twitter.

Today’s post: What kind of tools can we create for interactive data project frameworks that focus on telling stories (not solely graphing and mapping) that make this content more accessible to those with a wide range of technical skills?

One last point for now: We’re not doing data as a separate stream of posts, data journ is an integrated part of the whole news blog. Is that because we’re just getting started? That’s a logistical reason, but I prefer a philosophical one. We get data is important, but it doesn’t belong in a silo. We’re placing it side by side with other content on our site, and so we mirror that in the blog. My motto: If I’m doing my job right, I’m being a huge data geek so the average user doesn’t have to be. We all deserve to get interesting knowledge and insight that we have a right to know.

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