How to set up a datajournalism operation when you're not the New-York Times

Nicolas Kayser-Bril - @nicolaskb - Journalism++

The New-York Times sets the standard

Fantastic visualization of the census

Great election specials

Awesome maps

See them all here.

What about money?

Interactive News team: 18 people



Graphics department: 30 people


Rough budget estimate

US$ 7,000,000

That's 10% of the
Boston Globe's price tag

Or 50% of the price of The Independent

What about ROI?

When you ask NYT Interactive if they're profitable

The NYT is not an example to follow

Enters frugal datajournalism!

1. Reuse 2. Structure 3. Network

1. Reuse!

Why work from the ground up each time?

Reuse from others.

Let free libraries do the heavy lifting

Taking datavisualization as an example, from most versatile to most simple

D3.js, Raphael, Highcharts, Chartbuilder

Or use off-the-shelf tools

TableauPublic, Datawrapper, Infogram

That holds for mapping...

Kartograph, Maps in D3.js, QGIS

for statistical analyis...

R, PSPP, Statwing

... for everything!

If you do it more than once, do a template.

Reuse from your own projects.

Some things that happen more than once.

Elections, storms, soccer world cups, floods, fires, olympic games, police investigations, cabinet reshuffles, Premier League tournaments, cabinet meetings, cricket world cups, trials, oil spills, Apple product launches Nobel prizes, murders, Champion's Leagues, riots, budget crises, food poisoning scandals, new car models, US bombing some country

Put your templates in one place.


And define metrics for success!

2. Structure!

Finding, refining and maintaining
a data set takes time

Organize your data sets & query them fast

Keep them in one place,
to be used by all the data team


SQL tables, OpenRefine, Google Docs

(Again, all free!)

Let's take an example

September 21st, 09:00 GMT

Westgate mall shooting starts

It takes 12 clicks to add context to the event

Because the cleaned terrorism database was at hand

Newsroom-specific tools

PANDA, LocalFocus

The database can become the product

Chicago Schools

Governement employees salaries

Connected China

3. Network!

Talent is expensive

... try to get it for free!

Make friends with developers

Network with other journalists

Summing up: Bootstrapping a DDJ team

  1. Check out the free tools
  2. Set up repeatable processes and KPIs
  3. Join other communities


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