On June 5 2015, with the UK still trying to make sense of the “data confusion” in the wake of the , London was home to the fifth News Impact Summit co-organized by the European Journalism Centre, the Google News Lab and Polis at LSE. NIS London () focused on "The social impact of digital storytelling", and brought together journalists, editors and researchers to discuss reporting on such events as elections, natural disasters or political conflict and societal change. The long list of speakers who presented at the event reads as follows:
For this edition of the News Impact Summit in London, EJC and the News Lab at Google joined forces with the POLIS JOURNALISM AND SOCIETY think tank at the London School of Economics.
As has become customary for the summits, NIS London was opened with several remarks on behalf of the European Journalism Centre, by organizer Rina Tsubaki () and director Wilfried Ruetten. They then handed the mic to Matt Cooke. He introduced the audience to the Google News Lab, which aims to adapt and improve Google tools to be used in the newsroom, including the use of Google Trends to research what topics are on the general public's mind.
PANEL DEBATE 1: LOOKING BACK AT : FROM THE LEADING UK MEDIA PERSPECTIVES
How well did the UK media convey the story of the country's General Elections on digital platforms, and how did their impact compare with the "traditional" formats? Under the lead of POLIS's Charlie Beckett, several journalists discussed their own (online) coverage leading up to the elections and the aftermath, when the polls and the projected "numbers" were proven very wrong, indeed.
Miranda Green, Steve Hermann, Jason Mills and Tom Phillips joined this discussion.
An initial set of dichotomies were used to describe the elections: local & national, digital & print. BuzzfeedUK's Tom Philips called them "weird & boring":
Elections might seem an easy target for data-driven journalism, but this reliance can be a trap. For example, Jason Mills mentioned that the use of live sentiment trackers - which at ITV were used during the televised leaders debates - generated huge traffic, but didn't necessarily tell a coherent story. On the other hand, digital platforms did prove a great way to brdige the traditional media gap between England and Scotland. Overall, digital content proved trends in which the audience was especially interested in the local results, and used mobile devices to access content.
Of course, no discussion of the 2015 elections in the UK would be complete without touching upon the polls' mishap. Did the coverage focus too much on "the numbers" as they were presented to them, without actually engaging with or listening to the audience?
PANEL DEBATE 2: FROM DATA GATHERING TO VISUAL STORYTELLING
The second panel debate was the opportunity to broaden the discussion by turning to other topics covered in data-driven journalism. Accessing data and using this kind of information can aid journalists to uncover new kinds of stories or topics, many of which would have remained under-reporte were it not for this investigative approach. Analysing data can allow us to comprehend intricate topics, like natural disasters, humanitarian aid and the (re)occurrence of political conflict.