Youth Involvement in Data Journalism

on August 17, 2016.

By Nafi A. Putrawan


I think most of us check our smartphones upon waking up in the morning. We check the latest news and social media on our mobile phones while eating breakfast or drinking coffee. On the other hand, business executives look for the most accurate information which will serve as basis for their decisions. They get these data from dynamic sources: social media, landing pages, campaigns, business partnerships, etc.  Each one of us is looking for information updates every day; but reading information updates is like drinking water from a hydrant—and this is why we need data journalism. We need to communicate data and information in different ways.

Paul Bradshaw, a lecturer from Birmingham City University, defines data journalism as journalism done with data. Data journalism can help a journalist tell a complex story through engaging infographics. Hans Rosling’s spectacular talks on visualizing world poverty with 

Data journalism can also help explain how a story relates to an individual, as the BBC and the Financial Times now routinely do with their budget interactives (where you can find out how the budget affects you, rather than ‘Joe Public’). It can also open up the news gathering process itself, as The Guardian do so successfully in sharing data, context, and questions with their 

Data can be the source of data journalism, or it can be the tool with which the story is told — or it can be both. Like any source, it should be treated with skepticism; and like any tool, we should be conscious of how it can shape and restrict the stories that are created with it. Open data means data produced or commissioned by government or government controlled entities, and private sectors. It can be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone to aid research and decision making.

How can youth contribute to data journalism?

Data is not just about technology or statistics; it also a chance for youth involvement. Take for example the United Nations initiative called Open Government Partnership (OGP). OGP is an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Youth have different talents, skills and interests which they could use to get involved in OGP. They could contribute as writers, journalists, graphic designers, and data story tellers.

Here are some easy steps for the youth who want to give data journalism a try:

  1. Try to get the open data source or dataset about the topic you want to present.
  2. Manage and classify the data through a spreadsheet.
  3. Present your data using static or dynamic infographics.

The youth can also help come up with platforms for data journalism such as what my team did. We are currently developing the information and report publisher Aecnitiv and AecnitivHub which seek to offer information transparency both for government and private sectors. The published information and data in Aecnitiv can be managed by the platform users to create an open data platform.

About the Author: Nafi A. Putrawan is young professional in data and information governance. He helps organisations store, retrieve, and secure their information assets for many purposes (pre-IPO, M&A, KM, etc.). He works for Aecnitiv, a company which provides an open data marketplace for government and private sectors in Southeast Asia. He is also the Head of Information Design of the Association of Youth Generation Development (APGM) which focuses on improving education for low-income family students in Jakarta, Indonesia, in cooperation with AIESEC .

Disclaimer: The view/s expressed in this blog are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

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