Plain English is radical

Bill Bennett:

This echoes what I tell people: Avoid jargon as much as possible precisely because it excludes people. Sometimes I rant about it, see http://billbennett.co.nz/2010/04/19/writing-minimise-jargon/

In technology, it’s all about the commercial case: companies who overdo the jargon lose sales to companies who can articulate ideas in plain English. And often, the numbskulls who insist on jargon are the ones who are talking with forked tongues. It’s just the same with politics.

Originally posted on Fundamentally Useless:

Despite all the ups and downs of the past few months, there has been one constant in left wing politics: jargon. Regardless of whether Nicky Hager, Judith Collins, or Eminem led the news, the Left was ready to respond with a slew of long and fancy words. Left wing politics talks a lot about inclusion, but often it does so with some very exclusive words. I am guilty of this too.

Nothing says ‘you are not welcome in this discussion’ like jargon. If we are truly concerned with growing the Left, we need welcome those who look leftwards, not make them feel stupid. If we are serious about inclusive politics, then we need to make sure we don’t exclude less-advantaged people. Jargon excludes people who struggle with English and, generally speaking, people with less education.

I get that politics and identity can be complex, and that sometimes a rare word is…

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Finding Stories in Spreadsheets

Bill Bennett:

This post is mainly for journalists and those who are interested n how we work.

I purchased Bradshaw’s Scraping for Journalists book last year. I won’t say it changed my life, there’s little call for data journalism in New Zealand and even less interest from publishers willing to pay for the work. And yet I’ve found myself using lessons from this book in my work.

it’s more than a primer, it’s a text book and an operator’s manual. It’s also good value, after I paid for the book, the publisher sent around half a dozen updates at no extra cost.

Originally posted on Online Journalism Blog:

Finding stories in spreadsheets book cover

Cover design by Matt Buck/Drawnalism

My latest ebook – Finding Stories in Spreadsheets – is now live on Leanpub.

As with Scraping for Journalists, I’m publishing the book week-by-week so the book can be updated based on reader feedback, user suggestions and topical developments.

Each week you can download a new chapter covering a different technique for finding stories, from calculating proportions and changes, to combining data, cleaning it up, testing it, and extracting specific details.

There’s also a downloadable spreadsheet at the end of each chapter with a series of exercises to practise that chapter’s technique and find particular stories.

Along the way I tackle some other considerations in telling the story, such as context and background, and the importance of being specific in the language that you use.

If there’s anything you’d like covered in the book let me know. You can also buy the book in a ‘bundle’ with its sister title Data Journalism…

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