Inevitably, much of the discussion hinged around Twitter and I've relied heavily on other people's tweets to illustrate the conversation (hence the use of @storify for this post).
'Data journalism': too little information or too little expertise?
- Heather Brooke (@newsbrooke), the freedom of information journalist involved in the MPs' expenses scandal, gave the keynote and raised an issue that hadn't really sunk in before now -- the major difference in information availability between the US and UK.She gave some excruciating details of how her attempts to get information on official expenses were first blocked by officials and then met with indifference from newspaper editors.
- 'Data journalism' is a term that is meaningless in her native US where prodigious volumes of official data are made freely available.
In a later session, Kevin Anderson, another US journalist based in the UK. made the same point:
Earlier this month it was reported that there are five times the number of PR professionals in the States as there are journalists and Brooke thought that the enormous increase in PR power was working against pressure for official data to be opened up.
The thrust of her comments was that journalists needed to lobby harder to free up data.
Some journalists, however, are swimming in data. I think of my colleagues in financial journalism at Reuters with their access to myriad sources of market data. For them Heather's second conclusion is more relevant -- we've all got to get a lot handier with Excel. More on Heather's keynote from @psmith.
From broadcast mode to network node?
Neal Mann of Sky News (@fieldproducer) did a fine job in explaining how everything he does in the networked world of Twitter is analogous and complementary to what he does in his conventional journalism.
He came up with the killer quote of the day:
- This was endlessly retweeted throughout the day.
Much later it occurred to me that if this was a reasonable description then the converse might be Reuters as Twitter on Ritalin with some serious detox.
Neal regards Twitter as his 'patch' and sees no difference at all between Twitter-based journalism and any other kind. Except it is much faster.