luigireggi.eu

ddj

18/11/14 Civic Technology , Open Policy # , , , ,

Open Government Meets Journalism: Should A Public Administration Actively Involve Data Journalists?

Open Government Meets Journalism: Should A Public Administration Actively Involve Data Journalists?

According to a brutal definition, Data Journalism is “Journalism with Data“. Even though this data can come from a variety of sources, Open Government Data is seen as a gold mine. A data journalist could be interested, for example, in tracking crimes through local crime data or discovering specific episodes of corruption and misuse of public funding thanks to the data on public spending.

Now let’s see this from the perspective of the government. As more and more public sector organizations are venturing in the world of Open Government, the actual (re)use of their own Open Data is a measure of success of their strategy.  And there is no doubt that Data Journalism is one of the best examples of re-use of Open government Data that can create public value.

It’s fascinating to see how many public administrations around the world are now aiming to actively involve data journalists in their Open Government programs.  From my experience, this collaboration has taken three different forms so far:

  1. [SOFT] The staff of an Open Government program participates in “data journalism hackathons” or other events organized by journalists. The government employees offer their knowledge about the data and the data journalists find a story worth telling.
    This is what happened, for example, during the hackathon of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. Representatives of some Italian Ministries first presented their data to the journalists and then stayed all day to answer their questions and work with them.
  2. [MEDIUM] The government offers “training sessions” to journalists. Sometimes the data are difficult to understand because a specific jargon is used or the policy is so complex that at least a basic knowledge of some technical aspects is essential. The events are held on the government premises and are aimed at providing the journalists with the “right tools” to analyze the data (how to create a map or an interactive graph) and to interpret it.
    For example, the European Commission recently organized a “school” for journalists focused on EU funds.
  3. [HARD] The government hires data journalists. A data journalist working for the government can assume the role of communication officer and create visualizations and articles based on the government’s communication strategy. This is the case of the French portal Gouvernement.fr that recently added an “infographics” section (“les infographies et videos”) and is now looking for data journalists to create eye-catchy visualizations and content.
    But journalists can also have different roles, especially when working for specific Open Government initiatives. For example, a data journalist is part of the team of OpenCoesione School, a special project that involves high school students in the development of an investigation on the use of public funding through open data.

 

In the last few days I noticed a couple of interesting tweets on this.

An initial reaction to the “Medium scenario” (government training journalists) takes into consideration the principle of independence. In a tweet, the civil servant and public policy expert Tito Bianchi said:

However, an evidence-based debate in the press is possible only if the data are not misinterpreted, and working with the sources of information is a key part of the game. In addition, journalists may have limited quantitative skills to analyze the data or limited knowledge of the technicalities of a specific public policy.  

As for the “Hard scenario” (government hiring journalists), the experienced data journalists Nicolas Kayser-Bril commented on the French case with these words:

Nonetheless, he added that this could be an option if the agencies that are hiring are “independent, state-financed authorities that can scrutinize gov’t action, such as ombudsman, transparency authorities, courts of auditors”.

 

Do you think that a public agency should proactively involve data journalists? In which forms? Are there some “special cases”?
Under what conditions should a journalist accept to collaborate with an Open Government program?

 

 

Photo by Ahmad Hammoud

0 likes one response
My Twitter Feed
RT @pongovernance: Grazie Luigi per diffondere l’informazione. La sintesi del progetto #pongov per attività a supporto S3 è online qui http…
AVVISO PUBBLICO: 17 esperti per l’attuazione del Progetto sulle Strategie di Specializzazione Intelligente del… https://t.co/e4K43Qoa5i
#Bigdata meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens https://t.co/rP76lH3Dfs #socialmedia @luciopicci
RT @EuropeDirectTO: #ASOC1718 Oggi si riparte con "A Scuola di Opencoesione"! Incontriamo le scuole del Piemonte all' Università degli Stu…
[Working Paper, PDF] The Unintended Effects of Bottom-Up #Accountability: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Peru… https://t.co/WUT7GHgDNW
RT @dagoneye: Se penso a "il futuro della #democrazia" mi viene in mente @luigireggi :) A parte gli scherzi, è il libro citato nella #NL di…
[book] Government 3.0 – Next Generation Government Technology Infrastructure and Services https://t.co/dpVPzkpDHW #OpenGov #Opendata
[PhD dissertation] Engaging Democracy: An Institutional Theory of Participatory Budgeting https://t.co/rz1H0Ml6Pd #demopart #OpenGov
Recent Comments
- Putting research into practice: Training academics to use Open Data as OER: An experience from Uruguay | Thoughts on Open Education to OpenCoesione School – A scalable learning format using OpenData as Educational Resources
[…] developed by A Scuola di Open Coesione, and in the work t Chiara Ciociola and Luigi Reggi...
- Così fallisce l’Open Government: quando lo Stato fa auto-gol | luigireggi.eu to A (long) list of the risks of Open Government
[…] un post di un paio di settimane fa mi sono cimentato in una prima lista dei possibili ris...
- Così fallisce l'Open Government: quando lo Stato fa auto-gol | Tech Economy to A (long) list of the risks of Open Government
[…] analisi dell’esistente, l’Open Government porta con sé grandi potenzialità m...
Monithon
Monithon



A citizen monitoring marathon of the development projects financed by the European Union