Journalists at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference speak about data journalism. 

By Mfundo Knowledge Mthembu

Data journalism is one that requires thorough skills, as not all journalism is investigative, according to Ron Nixon, Washington Correspondent for the New York Times.  Nixon was speaking with Brant Houston, Executive Director of Investigative Reporters and Editors Incorporation, about getting a data state of mind.

“Consider data as human source that you can interview,” said Houston at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference, at the University of Witwatersrand.  Houston relayed questions that individuals should always consider where interfering with data and consuming of database is concerned.  He mentioned that there can be one or more database for a story, which seeks to quantify and measure information.

“One needs to have a purpose to play with database,” he added.

Nixon explained that there should not be any phishing of data.  A lot of times you not going to have the specific information but there is a proxy for it. “Start off with a basic question”, he said, and further explained; “We can’t just take government data because that is not data journalism”.

A question was posed to Nixon by Sonal Matharu from India, on how he verifies and interrogates data and database he uses to make his findings.

Nixon said by going out to people, conducting interviews and looking at the background of the existing data in question.

PHOTO: Ron Nixon talks to journalists about data journalism. Photo: Blessing Mandikonza.