Open journalism

I’ve never really thought about being a journalist.  To be honest I’m not really sure what they do.  Yes, I get that they write articles for newspapers, magazines and the broadcast media but I am assuming that they do more than that.  Surely it is something to do with stories, finding them and writing about them.

I did end up thinking about it yesterday however, when I was asked for a short interview with Lindsay.  She wanted to write a press release around the work we are doing with open data and she wasn’t clear what it is.  We agreed to a telephone call.  She wanted to talk about the work we are doing on waste management but I was not directly involved in that.  I referred her to Catherine and instead we talked about what is meant by open data.

It’s not the easiest of concepts to describe.  I find that people either get it or don’t.  Those that get it don’t need an explanation and those that don’t get it are going to take a lot of your time.  I talked about what we were trying to do and we covered how the answers to most of our issues lie in the data we already have.

Lindsay told me how she liked looking for patterns in things and could understand how data could be interesting.  It was then that the parallel with journalism came to mind.  Being a data analyst is like a journalist who is onto a good story.  They can see patterns and threads in the bits of information that they have picked up and they follow them doggedly until a clear story emerges.   Lindsay could now see open data in her terms.

She would have liked a picture relating to the subject for the press release but in the end that was beyond both of us.

We got the article done and agreed that open data is going to be good for Durham in that it gives an opportunity to create new and innovative products, it allows the Council to look at its services in a new light and it puts Durham in the spotlight as a great place to be.  Durham is open for business.

I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

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