Michael Bauer works at the School of Data and Open Knowledge Foundation teaching journalists and NGOs how to better construct stories from data. He told me how he started out, and what his advice would be to young journalists who want to get to grips with data.
Michael: I studied medicine, and I did research, and I did technology things all the time on the side, and while doing research I realised that a lot of people are not good at dealing with data, so I thought it would be good to help them, to teach them to how to do this. I was able to do research my colleagues couldn’t. After a detour I ended up with the School of Data from the Open Knowledge Foundation where we aim to teach how to do things with data to journalists and to charity organisations.
Nabeelah: How did you end up at the School of Data and the Open Knowledge Foundation and how did you become interested in particular in teaching people like journalists?
…For those of us who couldn’t be there, I’ve worked up a little storify with some of the key videos, links and tips to come out of Perugia’s International Journalism Festival. Featuring everyone from The Guardian‘s James Ball to Steven Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism from the Walter Cronkite school, to Spiegel Online’s open news fellow, Friedrich Lindenberg. Well worth a read for any aspiring data journalists.
My name’s Nabeelah, and I’ve been a data animation junkie for some time now. It started small – the odd BBC video that set out the statistics on voting rights better than any piece of narrative news, or explained the changing state of ethnicity in the U.S using teepees and ships with little flags sailing across the ocean. But before long I was hooked. It was the little flags that did it. Damn them.
My gateway drug opened up a world of people playing with data and using it to create brilliant, thought provoking, and often contestable stories. It became clear that data could yield endless information – to those who know how to source, interpret, handle, and present it.
So, I’ve decided at last to have a go at playing around myself, starting with the very first baby steps. Wish me luck. Here goes.