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Call for a week-long data journalism training in Berlin

- August 18, 2016 in Events, Fellowship

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Photo from a data visualization training in Istanbul, 2014. Author: Nika Aleksejeva

‘Data-driven journalism against prejudices about migration’ training course for young media-makers, human rights activists and developers Berlin, 12 – 20 November 2016

Deadline for receiving applications is: 31st August 2016, 23:59h CET.

School of Data fellow, Nika Aleksejeva, in collaboration with European Youth Press (EYP), an umbrella association of young media-makers in Europe, is inviting young media-makers, designers/developers/programmers and human rights activists to participate in a week-long data journalism training. The training aims to produce impartial, data-driven reports on local migration issues using innovative storytelling forms. It will address the current European refugee crisis, from the perspective of 11 European countries (listed below).

What to expect?

The main objective of the training course is to increase data journalism skills through hands-on training and through working on a real story that will eventually be published in the media. During the project, EYP will partner up with established media organisations from the eleven, listed countries, who will each send one journalist to attend the training. Working together, participants will learn data journalism skills and immediately apply them to practical scenarios. The finished results of their work will be published by media partners of the project. It is hoped that this broad public outreach will lead to significant effect on the media’s treatment of the issue. This course will be an opportunity to strengthen an already-established international network of young media-makers, mid-career journalists and activists concerned with migration and refugee rights.

Participants of the training course will:

  • learn and practice data journalism techniques: finding the right data, scraping, compiling, cleaning, storytelling with data;

  • form teams and work on specific projects, with a view to publication in the national media of participants’ home countries;

  • make professional contacts in the field and obtain hands-on experience of working on a cross-border, data-driven investigation.

Financial Information

This training course is funded by the Erasmus+ grant. Participants will receive reimbursement of their travel costs** up to the amount indicated below, **according to their country of residence:

  • Armenia: 270 EUR

  • Belgium: 170 EUR

  • Czech Republic: 80 EUR

  • Denmark: 80 EUR

  • Germany (outside Berlin): 80 EUR

  • Italy: 170 EUR

  • Latvia: 170 EUR

  • Montenegro: 170 EUR

  • Slovakia: 170 EUR

  • Sweden: 170 EUR

  • Ukraine: 170 EUR

  • participants living in Berlin will not be eligible for reimbursement of any travel expenses.

Although travel costs will be reimbursed, participants are asked to make the travel bookings themselves, as soon as possible after being selected. Participants are also asked to take the most economical route from their place of residence to Berlin and use the following means of the transportation:

  • Train: 2nd class ticket (normal as well as high-speed trains),

  • Flight: economy-class air ticket or cheaper,

  • Bus

Accommodation, meals and all necessary materials will be provided.

Who can apply?

Applicants must fulfil all the criteria below:

  • young media-makers, journalism students, bloggers and citizen journalists with a demonstrated interest in issues related to the rights of ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees; human rights activists working on refugee/migration issues; developers interested in the topic;

  • 18-30 year-olds;

  • residents of Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Armenia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Slovakia, Denmark and Latvia;

  • proficient in English.

How to apply?

Interested candidates are invited to apply by completing this application form. Please also send your CV, in Europass format, and via e-mail, to [email protected] with ‘ddj on migration’ in the subject line.

The deadline for receiving completed applications (form and CV) is: 31st August, 23:59h CET.

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Using data for improving cyclist community in Riga, Latvia

- August 10, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

Nika Aleksejeva presenting the project

Would you believe that a socially relevant, data-driven project can be accomplished without a budget, a big team and full-time staff? How? This question was the focus of the ‘How we did it?’ meetup in Riga, Latvia. It was the final point of #Velodati – a data-driven project that crowdsourced geographic data about cycling mobility in Riga, initiated and conducted by the School of Data Latvian local group (Datu skola).

The Datu Skola’s mission is to facilitate data-driven projects, conducted by journalists and activists, in collaboration with data analysts and programmers. The #Velodati project works as an example for such projects.

As a result an interactive online map was created showing the most busy cycling routes and how they overlap with the net of cycle tracks in Riga.

screenshot of the project

The project took nothing more than three months of one person’s work and 37 euros for posters, that encouraged Riga cyclists to share GPS recordings of their routes during the Riga Cycling Week in May. This was possible thanks to the open source and freemium tools used to create the crowdsourcing campaign, to clean and to visualize data. As a result, the online map got over 16.2K+ views (in a country of 1.9M population) and received coverage in eight national media outlets.

Here is a list of tools used for every part of the data project:

Crowdsourcing campaign Data collection Data cleaning Data visualization, publication
Froont campaign’s web page
Animaker video animation
Typeform survey sharing instructions
Google Docs data recording instructions
Zapier email automation
Gmail data compilation
“Save emails and attachments” Google Spreadsheet add-on organising data
QGIS data cleaning, formating
CartoDB map visualization
Tableau Public survey data visualization
Social media (Twitter, Facebook) social media campaign promotion of results

Each tool was demonstrated during the first part of the event. Attendees were particularly interested in Animaker, the video editing tool, Zapier, the cross-platform integration tool, the “Save emails and attachments” Google add-on, that organises email attachments automatically on Google Drive and CartoDB, a geographic data visualization tool.

Attendees also wanted to know why data vas visualized using points instead of lines and how a person who cleaned data made choices regarding which routes to keep or delete. Some also started to wonder how to improve the data crowdsourcing campaign for greater data submissions.

This was a great warm-up for the second part of the event. Participants split into three working groups to brainstorm about next steps for the project.

  • One group discussed how the project could be improved for more impactful, data-driven results.

  • Another group discussed how to lobby Riga municipality for better cycling infrastructure in the capital.

  • Finally, there was a group which brainstormed ideas for other data journalism projects.

All groups concluded that it’s useful to combine cycling data with data about public transportation. Bicycles can serve as a good alternative, not only for cars, but also for reaching areas of the city where public transportation is inconvenient. Research, such as that conducted as part of this project, could be used to make evidence-based decisions regarding improving citizen mobility in Riga.

The tools and methods used to produce the #Velodati story will be shared as learning modules on School of Data international page.


Event Name Velodati – How we did it?
Type meetup
Description a reflection on methodology and tools used to produce the “Velodati” story.
Trainers Nika Aleksejeva
Partners No
Location Riga, Latvia
Date July 5th
Audience journalists, cycling community representatives, analysts, civic society representatives, others
Number of attendees 23
Gender split NA
Duration 3 hours

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Data Harvest: Planting seeds of journalism collaboration

- June 10, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From a tiny sprout of 35 people who were interested in EU spending on Farming Subsidies six years ago, this year Data Harvest grew to a 350+ attendees conference that shared stories, inspirations, methods and practical skills with European data journalists. The famous #PanamaPapers investigation was in the center of everyone’s attention as it embedded the core values of modern investigation projects: cross-border collaboration between local newsrooms all around the world and data-driven computer-mediated approach that blends together with conventional investigative journalism methods.

Mar Cabra (ICIJ) invites newsrooms to collaborate on global data-driven investigations:

It’s all about collaboration

Panama Papers investigation sets a perfect example for fighting the so called “Gollum journalism” [reference from the Lord of the Rings trilogy] that presumes that journalists should keep every exclusive piece of information to themselves, even if a story crosses the borders.

“If the journalists from SZ had not shared the data with ICIJ and us with more than 370 journalists, Panama Papers would not have happened.” concludes Mar Cabra while sharing 10 tips for conducting collaborative investigations:

The notion of collaboration as a key to big scale data-driven investigations that can change things for good was floating in the air not only during the talks, keynotes and sessions. It was soaking through every conversation in the networking space, during the lunch and on the way to sessions that were scheduled across two floors in two buildings.

Back to the future

A day before the conference coders and data-savvy journalists could join a traditional hackathon dedicated for data projects about EU spending. This is how it all started.

Brigitte Alfter, the Editor at the, remembers the time when she was working as a correspondent for a Danish newspaper covering European affairs. At that time she realised that many so-thought national stories exceed borders of a single European country and affect the all EU member states all together. One of such matters is EU spending.

Therefore teams at the hackathon worked on data collection about EU cohesion funds, finalized a database about EU tenders, merged datasets about EU farming subsidy beneficiaries with illegal polluters as well as pulled data about EU sanctions and regional development funds. Some of the projects are expected to be continued, like Open Spending database crowdsourced by Open Knowledge and the data base about European tenders that keeps being updated since the previous hackathons.

Many tracks to go

Tailored for busy journalists, the conference lasted from Friday to Sunday. The three-day program consisted of eight thematic tracks.

The most hands-on track was Data Lab. The track consisted of step-by step hands-on tutorials for working with Excel, SQL, R, Python, Open Refine, Carto DB and many more. The coordinator of the track data journalist Crina Boros made sure, every attendee can progress from the basics working on Excel to analysing data programmatically in just three days (!!!).

Cross-border track shared the investigations conducted by international journalists working on a problem that concerns more than one country. One of such stories was “The Criminal Migrant Shipping Network”. The team of 9 journalists and experts managed to discover who is behind illegal shipping of migrants across the mediterranean using shipping database and researching the ownership structures behind the suspicious ships. The project was funded by the, the organiser of the event and promoter of cross-border investigations.

Many practical suggestions, learnings and inspirations were shared during the Data track, that covered every aspect of working with data. Besides this year special attention was also devoted for more administrative issues, as funding of data journalism projects, security while conducting an online research, how to do “wobbing” and cover Tax and Finance.

Planting relationships

Data Harvest is the most important event for data journalists in Europe. It’s steady growth ensures diversity of experiences, ideas and skills to combine for big scale data-driven investigations across borders. Its sessions inspire and build practical competences while the networking during, between and after the session builds connections that grow into relationships and friendship. There are not enough words to express the mood floating around. Perhaps images will do a better job. Though… yeah, better come and taste the fruits of Data Harvest next year. Meanwhile check resources from the conference here.

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