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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NetHui 2013: The real trouble with journalism

TLDNR – too long, did not read.

It’s the kind of comment you might expect to hear in an online forum, not from a senior news executive at the nation’s largest newspaper. And certainly not in the context where it was used in front of former New Zealand Herald feature writer Chris Barton.

That snide comment tells you the real trouble with journalism – the people running the industry simply don’t get it. There’s a lot they just don’t get.

Depth and prestige

For the best part of a decade Barton worked on the kind of long-form, in-depth feature stories which win prizes and readers for newspapers. They add depth to the paper and prestige to the masthead.

Perhaps they weren’t read by everyone, but many readers would buy the Weekend Herald especially to get the more expansive, intelligent features.

By the time Barton left the Herald last year, the feature department was effectively finished. In depth features are no longer part of the paper’s mix.

Read on

And anyway, Too long, didn’t read is nonsense. People do read long form stories. They read them online and they continue to read them in magazines.

They read even longer stories. There’s a special name we give to those even longer stories, we call them books, They can be printed, although increasingly they are digital.

The Scoop Foundation

Barton was speaking at a session run by The Scoop Foundation, a public interest journalism organisation set up by Alison McCulloch and Alistair Thompson to fund journalism projects.

Also at the presentation was The Science Media Centre’s Peter Griffin who talked of his experiences looking at how similar organisations in the USA have stepped into to cover some of the issues journalists might have covered for large newspapers. He says there’s potential to raise money in New Zealand from philanthropic trusts.

 

 

Leanpub – a wonderful eBook publishing model

Leanpub ebook publishing

Leanpub send me a mail saying an updated version of Paul Bradshaw’s book Scraping for Journalists is available. The mail includes links to download the book in PDF, EPUB or Mobi formats – or perhaps all three if I want, there’s no digital rights management to worry about.

Because I already purchased the book, the updates are free.

Leanpub is a great way of selling ebooks: buy one, all future updates are free.

Royalties are generous for writers, around 90% less a 50 cents per book fee. If I ever get around to writing another book, this is where I’ll go first.

Another great thing about Leanpub, is the books are reasonably priced. Scraping for Journalists doesn’t include as much information as you might get from an everyday paperback, but the price is about half what you’d pay for a printed book. There’s also a money-back guarantee.

Oh, and it case you’re wondering the Scraping for Journalists book is good too.