At the Hotel Sangallo in Perugia, Caelainn Barr from the Guardian, Daniele Grasso of El Confidencial, Paula Guisado of El Mundo, and Mar Cabra (moderator) head of the Data and Research Unit at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, holds a discussion on the topic of data journalism for investigations, that goes beyond infographics and graphs to tell a compelling story.
Mar Cabra explains the challenges data journalists face in the newsroom in order to collaborate with their counterparts. This is because data analysis is not used commonly in the mainstream newsroom, yet. Therefore, it is essential for data journalists to be able to articulate the importance of data to their editors and peers.
Daniele Grasso works for El Confidencial, one of the first digital news platform in Spain to have an integrated data unit that works across different multidisciplinary teams. He starts off by making a case that data can help provide transparency, create new databases and resources for stories, and assist in complex long form, investigative stories. It could provide an appealing narrative to complex investigative stories.
Paula Guisado who works for El Mundo – the second largest print publication in Spain- explains how data was useful to build a story that would have been overlooked if the information was never gathered. Her example led her team to gather information on the assets of congress members in Spain and make a dataset that could tell the story that was overlooked by other news outlets. To her, with the support of the data journalists, it is important to collect the pieces of information before it gets funneled through the investigative unit.
Caelainn Barr is an award-winning data journalist at the Guardian, where she helped break the Laundromat story through data. The news of the scandal, which exposed British banks’ management of transactions that helped siphon out billions of dollars out of Russia, provides a good example in how data can be useful in the newsroom. She explains how the data team at the Guardian were able to structure data in a way to support the Guardian journalists in their field. The data supported the investigation by searching existing databases for crucial information and creating datasets that pointed out the implicators.
An audience member asks what background would you need to get into this field. Barr encourages all journalists from differing fields to pursue data investigation, even if the individual does not have a background in programming or data analyst. These examples from the panelists show the importance and versatility of data in investigative journalism.