Data analysis is one of the best methods of producing exclusive stories, a London Press Club forum was told this week.
Sanjit Atwal, CEO and co-founder of Squawka, opened The Numbers Game debate with an insight into the world of data, saying journalists could now dictate the subject matter and look for different patterns and outcomes that might yield an exclusive agenda-setting news story.
Held at Squawka’s East London offices in front of a capacity crowd, the debate panel – featuring Amar Singh, Chief Content Officer of Squawka, Megan Lucero, Data Journalism Editor for The Times and Sunday Times, and John Burn-Murdoch, Data Journalist at the Financial Times – discussed the impact and future of data in the media.
Sanjit told the audience that in a digital age where news moves so rapidly, it is difficult for reporters to obtain – and hold on to – exclusive stories in a way they once did. He said that data journalism allows the journalist to dictate the subject matter and look for different patterns and outcomes that might yield an exclusive agenda-setting news story.
From major scoops such as the Panama Papers to the growth of infographics and interactive apps, advancements in technology and wider access to data is radically shifting the modern media landscape. Megan Lucero explained how by analysing eleven years of blood data, she and her team helped The Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WRD in its doping investigation which led to the paper’s award-winning front page exclusive. Analysis by the data team revealed that medals have been won at every world championship and Olympic Games since the millennium by suspected blood dopers.
The team’s data analysis was also incorporated into other stories for The Times and The Sunday Times including tax avoidance, political donors and GP’s registered interests.
John Burn-Murdoch used data to chart the meteoric rise to the top of the Premier League of Leicester City with an impressive graph showing a steep upward curve. He said that smart database planning and Twitter interaction opened up new approaches to storytelling.
This was a view echoed by Amar and James McManus, Squawka’s social media director, who said that they open up their data to the football site’s half a million followers and encourage them to ask the questions.