tiistai 9. huhtikuuta 2019

Teemo Tebest: Meet the News Exchange’s new data journalist

Kirjoitin itsestäni ja työstäni esittelytekstin EBU:lla sisäisesti. Jaan tekstin myös tässä.

My name is Teemo Tebest. Nice to e-meet you all. I’m from Finland and I’ve just joined the EBU for two years to work as a data journalist.

What is a data journalist you may ask?

For the last six+ years I’ve have been working for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) as a full-time data journalist in a team called the Plus Desk.

The Plus-team consists of programmers and graphic designers and together with the news teams we’ve established an ongoing operation where we produce data based journalism, visual journalism and online journalism with other news teams.

In general, one could say a data journalist is a journalist who has technical or even programming skills. Data journalist turns data into understandable journalism.

As for my background – I’m a programmer and I have a Master’s Degree in Information Technology. I studied information visualization, user interface design and user experience design.

In information visualization you study how to make complex things more understandable through ways of visualizations. Visualization can be a map, a bar graph. In my opinion, written text can act as a visualization if it delivers the message in the most efficient way.

What is data journalism?

At Yle, the Plus-team did operated together with other news teams. For example, if we created a story around the parliamentary elections we would team up with someone from the politics team. This task force of a journalist, a programmer and a graphic designer would come up with the best solution to tell the story at hand. Below are some examples of stories that we created at Yle:

Child molesters

In this story we asked the courts in Finland for all the cases where there was a prosecution on child abuse since 2018. We got over 600 PDF documents, some of them were scanned. We used OCR to get these PDFs into a machine readable format and turned them into a database with Python. Then we tailored an interface and a story where reader can go through all the cases. While the public eye often focuses in individual cases, this story showed the more overall situation through the ways of data journalism.

Municipality radar

In this story we looked into the situation in Finnish municipalities. With experts we selected and gathered 40 datasets in different areas of life that defined the situation of a municipality. These datasets were stored and combined in Google Sheets. The datasets were then divided into four categories:
  • Economics
  • Future
  • Health of the citizens
  • Atmosphere
The situation for a municipality in these categories was presented via 5-star-rating system. This was a comprehensive project and it was adopted by the citizens but also by the city council members.

Die Mannschaft against the Man

This story is not necessarily a data story but it shows what can be done while having programming and graphic design knowledge in the newsroom. This story was created for the World Cup and it showed how in the previous World Cups Argentina (and Messi) had always lost to Germany in their tournament elimination match. These kind of tailored feature stories can be made in any way of your imagination (and resources).

What next?

Data journalism gives a newsroom new ways of telling stories. Data journalism should be considered as a tool which enables enriching your storytelling. Data and visualizations are very effective and immersive as you can see from these two examples:

I'm here for you! If you have any ideas or suggestions on how EBU and I should proceed together with you. I have many ideas but I’m all ears. Some ideas what I have thought include following:
  • Data journalism code storage for sharing code between members
  • Data journalism data storage for sharing data between members
  • Data visualization templates for the members
  • Best practices introductions, how-tos, etc
  • Collaborative data projects with and between members on cross-border subjects like climate change
  • Consulting members' ongoing projects
  • Workshops, meetings, classes and courses
  • EBU could also provide data and visualizations in breaking news situations