Think Like a Data Journalist: How the Guardian Makes Data Useful

Location: King's Suite Level: Intermediate
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Governments around the world are opening up their data vaults to release a “tsunami of information”. This big data provides critical insight into the way government works, but thousands of datasets are published every day and are often ignored. How can we make this data accessible for everyone to analyze?

When the UK government published every item of spending over £25,000, it was big data published in a complex way. UK Guardian Datablog made that data publicly available and asked its users to get involved in poring through the numbers. The result was readers and journalists working together to make real stories out of raw numbers.

In the past, journalists kept the raw information close to their chests; now by opening it up to the world, everyone becomes a potential data journalist. Every day the Guardian publishes the raw data behind the news using Google tools, opening up and making government statistics accessible in a form their readers can use.

Publicly sharing and visualizing data can help gain insight and answers to questions that aren’t immediately obvious. The public can combine the public data with their own. Using the tools available, anyone can now create their own stories and visualizations with the data, which leads to increased knowledge and action.

In this keynote, we explore how the UK Guardian Datablog is at the forefront of data journalism. We’ll cover several of the tools and technologies they have used to collect, analyze and visualize, and share their data with the world.

Photo of Kathryn Hurley

Kathryn Hurley


Kathryn Hurley recently joined Google as a Developer Programs Engineer for Fusion Tables. In this role, she helps spread the word about Fusion Tables by presenting at conferences and developer events. She recently worked on Google’s 2010 U.S. Election Ratings gadget. She received an MS in Web Science from the University of San Francisco and a BS in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. Prior work experience includes research in mobile and peer-to-peer computing.

Photo of Simon Rogers

Simon Rogers


Simon Rogers is editor of the Guardian’s Datablog and Datastore, an online data resource which publishes hundreds of raw datasets and encourages its users to visualise and analyse them. He is the author of Facts are sacred: the power of data available now on Kindle. Simon is also a news editor on the Guardian, working with the graphics team to visualise and interpret huge datasets. He was closely involved in the Guardian’s exercise to crowdsource 450,000 MP expenses records and the organisation’s coverage of the Afghanistan Wikileaks war logs. Previously he was the launch editor of the Guardian’s online news service and has edited the paper’s science section. He has edited two Guardian books: How Slow Can You Waterski and The Hutton Inquiry and its impact. Simon has just been awarded the Oxford University Internet Institute’s award of ‘Best Internet Journalist’ and was recently honoured at the Knight Batten awards for journalistic innovation. The Datablog and Datastore have won awards in 2011 for innovation from the UK’s Online Media Awards and the Newspaper Awards. In 2010, Simon received a special commendation from the Royal Statistical Society in its awards for journalistic excellence.


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