Center data team win, measuring Trump

Notes from the Center

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Our data journalism across the Center for Public Integrity and in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is second to none in my view. It’s also a core competence I want to strengthen. With the growth in “big data” we are well-placed to lead in data journalism as the Center has for many years.

Data design win

Chris Zubak-Skees, Yue Qiu and Erik Lincoln have won outstanding recognition for their work in data journalism and visualization from the Society of News Design.

A portfolio from the Center for Public Integrity — incorporating work from Yue, Chris and in the case of State Integrity from Erik, won an award of excellence in the society’s Best of Digital Design competition. I recognize that many people contribute to the work underlying all of this and so do the data and digital teams I am sure.

Separately, Yue won the same award with her own portfolio of work from both at the Center and her time at ProPublica and for a specific project from ProPublica Workers' Compensation Reforms by State.

Unfortunately Yue will shortly leave the Center to join Bloomberg in Hong Kong but she has done great work here and added to the Center’s skills. Personally, I think the work she did on State Integrity with this imaginative “wheel” of data to take the reader through into deeper data of this huge investigation was incredibly clever.

ICIJ in big data

Data pervades much of our work and no more so than in the ICIJ whose data team led by Mar Cabra won the investigations section of the Data Journalism Awards of the Global Editors Network last year. [Full disclosure: I am the president of GEN but I had no hand in the award.] The ICIJ is particularly strong in crunching enormous datasets from leaks as it has with Swissleaks and LuxLeaks. Watch this space for another project of even greater scale.

Political data

We acquire and analyze advertising data as part of the Buying of the President project and in Who’s Calling the Shots in State Politics. That, combined with the regular dumps of data on the campaign costs provides rich seams of stories mined by our data journalists and the political team. Chris Zubak-Skees built what I think is by far the best political ad tracker powered by weekly data. Dave Levinthal, Michael Beckel and Carrie Levine on the federal political team did a nice job this week in digesting the big numbers on the campaign so far. The data visualization that goes with that — again by Chris Z-S – brings great clarity to the money race whether or not Donald Trump is spending his own. The 2.17am timestamp suggests Erik Lincoln and Kimberley Porteous were working late on it too.

John Dunbar and Cady Zuvich capitalized on all that background and fresh reporting to produce an analysis of what type of people are backing Donald Trump financially.Turns out they’re aspirant small business people.

Bongs for Bernie

Michael Beckel is our resident comedy writer and trivia hunter and came up with a beauty this week which was immediately picked up by CNN, the San Antonio Express-News, High Times and something called BustleCan you sell marijuana pipes to help fund Bernie Sanders?

What we’re reading and thinking about:

Executive Editor Gordon Witkin notes this Fortune article on metrics that matter to BuzzFeed…food for thought on the changing measures of success in the new media world.

Chief Digital Officer Kimberley Porteous is thinking about her next gig by reading:

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers which is helpful for conceiving new business models for digital journalism.

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company which she recommends as essential reading for the creation of any new digital products or organizational pivots.

And: The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford: laugh-out-loud funny in the way it skewers the English aristocracy and more absurd than any P.G. Wodehouse story.

I am a big fan of Emily Bell from the Tow Institute at Columbia and here’s her dystopian view of journalism being swallowed by the big Internet platforms.

I welcome feedback on this note.

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