3 lessons the 2012 DJA nominees taught me

Prior to the Data Journalism Awards ceremony I interviewed some of the DJA nominees. Looking back I noticed most interviewees mentioned the same keys to succes. I’d like to share the three lessons they’ve taught me:

    1. Data journalism is just journalism

Don’t let the ‘data’ in data journalism scare you: ultimately both data journalists and journalists want to communicate a story. Data journalists might use different resources, tools and media; that doesn’t change the foundations of journalism. Be accurate and relevant.

Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune:

“If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”

Brian Boyer, Chicago Tribune:

“Know your users. Learn their needs. Build things that satisfy those needs – build useful stuff.”

    1. Data Journalism is a teamsport

Journalist working together with programmers and scientists; even different media collaborating to tell one story. Synergy – when the result is greater than the sum of the parts – is the magic word: the value of collaboration seems infinite.

Michael Keller, News21:

“I think these projects are best when you have a team with whom you can throw ideas around and test concepts.”

Rob Procter, The Guardian:

“Journalists have much to gain from collaborating with academic researchers so that they can take advantage of the latest tools and methods.”

    1. The best ideas are executed ideas.

How often people say something like: “If I’d executed _____ (idea), I’d be the next _____ (hero) by now.”? Getting an idea doesn’t seem to be the problem here – every now and again you’ll have one. Executing ideas is. So no more excuses; get going and make something.

Emily Yount, JS Online:

“Data journalism isn’t reserved for the tech-savvy folk.”

Julius Troger, Berliner Morgenpost:

“Just experiment. Dont’ care about missing skills.”

Jonathan Albright, The Conversation:

“Just get the story out there and worry less about the medium. It will probably catch and spread if it’s relevant and well-written.”

Big thanks to all DJA nominees sharing their data journalism secrets and answering my questions – sharing is caring!