data skills, News, Speakers

Brush up your data skills with Jonathan Stoneman

At Dataharvest we have three full tracks of data skills training with great trainers from all over Europe. Meet one of them – Jonathan Stoneman, freelance data and journalism trainer, “based in the UK, but a European at heart”:

What are you going to teach at Dataharvest?

This year I am teaching R with my good friend Luuk Sengers. Together we have come up with a method of teaching people how to get to grips with R’s “Tidyverse” suite of packages and leaves them with the capacity to go on learning after they leave the classroom.

How can that be used?

R and R Studio are free software packages which work together to enable you to handle huge datasets and find the facts and figures you need. Originally developed by statisticians for statisticians, it has become a key skill for datajournalists, with thousands of packages which help users do all kinds of things including mapping and visualisation, scrape websites, analyse networks. You name it, R can do it.  I am also working on a game – an experience where people can try out the skills they’ve learned in Mechelen against the clock, and in teams. We call it an “Escape Room” because it draws on that model: one hour, many puzzles to solve, one big solution at the end. …if your team works together!

What are you yourself looking forward to hearing at the conference?

I am always surprised in Mechelen – I learn things I didn’t expect to learn. One session I definitely want to catch is Rob Gebeloff’s intro to Regular Expressions – for too long I have put off learning this vital extra language, which will help me pick my way through messy data in an elegant and efficient way. Rob’s a great trainer from one of the greatest newspapers in the world: who’d want to miss that?!

 

News

Dataharvest on a shoestring

Do you want to go to Dataharvest, but you are really low on money? Here are a few tips to keep costs down without missing out on the good stuff!

  • Get an Early Bird ticket this week. The deadline for Early Bird tickets is February 15, and until then the price is €190. After that tickets go up to €225 and €260.
  • If you are too late for the Early Bird discount: Get together with 4 others and register together – that gives a group discount, so you pay only €200 per person.
  • Save on sleeping – there is a cheap youth hostel in Mechelen with rooms for 2-5 people, so share! You can search for roommates in the Dataharvest Facebook group. There is also the possibility of couchsurfing – staying for free at a host’s home. Our good friends at Hostwriter have a special couchsurfing for journalists. There are also a number of Couchsurfer hosts in Mechelen – and don’t forget that Brussels with thousands of couchsurfer hosts is only a short train ride away. (more after the picture)
  • If you travel by train from Brussels – or just from and to the airport – there is a weekend discount from Friday at 7 pm until Sunday, and the tickets are half-price.
  • You probably don’t want to survive on cup noodles for 3 days, and Mechelen has quite a number of cheap restaurants. Search Google for “goedkope restaurants Mechelen” and you will find a good selection.
  • Cheap drinks? We can’t really advice on that – but you will find it. And the atmosphere at the Vismarkt during conference evenings is worth the investment.
News

Dataharvest will not be live-streamed

Some colleagues ask if the Dataharvest sessions can be live-streamed, so one can follow the conference from afar – or maybe later listen to some of the sessions that one missed out on. We have asked Arena director Brigitte Alfter about the possibilities:

Will the Dataharvest conference or parts of it be live-streamed in the future?

No, I am afraid not.

Why not?

We want people to be able to speak freely at the conference – and know who they are speaking to. We want to share methods with each other as journalists and coders, and obviously this is professional development and nothing secret. However, we believe that the personal contact and trust building is a crucial element of method sharing, training and indeed cross-border collaboration. And personal contact is easier if you only have to relate to those in the room, not someone unknown on the other end of a streaming camera.

But many more would benefit from the sessions if you live-streamed. Couldn’t that make you reconsider?

Of course, it is a point to make as many as possible benefit – but value of the conference is really the combination of the sessions and the networking. We arrange the conference so people can get together and start collaborating. We take big pride in all the investigations that have been hatched in the coffee breaks at Dataharvest during the years – and that wouldn’t have happened with live streaming.

News

From pitch to conference session

Would you like to pitch a session at the Dataharvest conference – but hesitate, because you don’t really know what happens to it? Here is what constitutes a good pitch, and how we decide what to put on the program.

First of all, Dataharvest is all about sharing – of experiences, methods, successes and failures. Do you know software, that others can benefit from? Have you used innovative methods in your investigations? Did you make a mistake that others could avoid? Tell us about it!

Other keywords for a good pitch are: European – crossborder – collaboration – data – digital. Think about the format – is your idea fit for a presentation, a workshop, a panel debate or maybe a networking session?

You send your pitch by using this form. Keep it short – but do remember to include enough background for outsiders to understand your idea. Deadline for pitches is February 1!

So what happens next?

We are already far into planning the program, but have a constant eye on new ideas coming in. We will be in touch with you as soon as we can – maybe to say ‘yes and thank you’ to your idea as it is, maybe to discuss how to combine it with a similar idea from another country. And of course there are ideas we must decline – maybe because they are not within the conference scope, maybe because there simply is a limit to the number of sessions at the conference.

We plan the conference program track by track. For each we collect all the ideas that we have gathered and received. That may be a list of 30 ideas, but we may only have 12 time slots for the track. Then the discussion begins on how to balance sessions on concrete stories with session on collaboration methods, experiences from East and West, big projects with smaller etcetera. We also have an eye on speakers to make sure that a multitude of countries are represented, that we have a reasonable gender balance etc.

Who makes the selection? Many good people help us, so do the investigative networks in Europe. Data journalism trainers from many different countries have planned 3 full tracks of data skills. But the final responsibility is on the shoulders of Brigitte Alfter and Trine Smistrup – complaints should go to us!

Do I get invited if my pitch is accepted? Dataharvest is a low-budget conference, so we will ask if your newsroom will pay for your travel and hotel. We can waive the conference fee, and we do have a small travel budget for speakers that need it. But register, if you want to be sure to participate – there are only 500 conference tickets!

 

News

The Arena Housing List shows its potential

Since we launched it on 4 September, the Arena Housing List has kept growing and now has 130+ members. Most of them are journalists but there are also academic researchers, advocates and other practitioners and activists. Almost everyone is based in Europe while a few others based in North America.

During these weeks, list members have sent over 40 emails in which they have shared media stories, academic reports and data sources. They have also told the list about their ongoing projects, made professional connections and even written stories based on or inspired by information received by the list.

This enthusiasm has kept the momentum going and given us a first view of what we are able to achieve if we work together. And we at Arena are working already on the next steps to continue developing the Arena Housing Project as an open collaborative network.

Like other European cross-border collaborative projects, the idea for the Arena Housing Project was born at Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference.

During the conference last May, which was focused on local reporting and on housing, more than two dozen journalists and other professionals came together to brainstorm ways to collaborate across borders so that our work gets more visible and impactful.

Do you want to subscribe to the Housing List? Send an email with the word “subscribe” without quoting marks in the subject or body to housing-request@lists.journalismarena.eu, or go and subscribe on the list page.

News

Toepfer Stiftung and Arena team up for new cross-border initiative

20 journalists from all over Europe will get a chance to build cross-border networks in the new “European Collaborative Journalism programme” offered by German Toepfer Stiftung.

The program is aimed at journalists from local and regional media and will consist of two steps: First a 3-day seminar to network and develop ideas, then participation in the 2020 Dataharvest – The European Investigative Journalism Conference, arranged by Arena for Journalism in Europe.

Toepfer Stiftung initiates this program to support quality journalism and to connect journalists from all over Europe. Journalism and media freedom are under pressure, and financial constraint affect the possibilities for investigative researches and the work of local and regional journalists. At the same time, the number cross-border topics is constantly increasing, as in the fields of environment, traffic, migration or organised crime. Cross-border collaboration of journalists enable to continue investigative journalism and to hold power structures accountable despite declining resources.

The program will build up a network of the 20 participants from all over Europe, and they will be able to develop ideas for collaborations. The two meetings will be respectively Feb 27 – March 1 in Germany and May 14-17 at Dataharvest in Mechelen, Belgium.

News

We listen to your feedback

Don’t think that your work filling in the feedback form is wasted. We read every answer carefully and consider criticism and advice.

Let’s admit it, we frolic in comments such as “Good organisation, good topics, great networking and story ideas” or “great atmosphere, great input, impressive cooperativeness”. We love reading “No bullshit – everyone’s there because they actually do or want to do data/investigative journalism” or “It is a great gathering of genuinely interesting colleagues from all over. Inspiring!”.

But we also go through the critical points one by one and consider how things can be changed. The layout of the conference rooms? – well, there is a limit to what we can do, but it can maybe be improved somewhat. The technical set-ups, so sessions are not delayed because of trouble with PCs and projectors – yes, we should be able to solve that. Better representation from Eastern Europe – we are fundraising specifically for that, so please cross your fingers!

A number of you pointed to the fact that we are journalists and editors – not speakers! So for next year we plan a full day pre-conference workshop for speakers who want to improve their presentation skills – plus a set of online guidelines on how to make good and concise presentations.

And then the food! We are wringing our brains to find ways to vary and improve lunch, but there are also limits on both economy and practicalities: How can we serve 500 people lunch in one hour? We have been working on making lunch greener, and feedback shows that it worked some days, but not all. (It did feel a bit unfair, though, when someone complained about sandwiches 4 days in a row, when the conference only has 3 lunches!). But there is always room for improvement, and we work on it again 2020.

Did you forget to send your comments after the conference? You can still access the feedback form if you have comments that are not pitches for the 2020 program.

 

News

Arena and the EJC partners for the #EIJC19

PRESS RELEASE – We are delighted to announce a partnership between Arena for Journalism in Europe and the European Journalism Centre (EJC), for the European Investigative Journalism Conference & Dataharvest 2019 (EIJC19), taking place in Mechelen from 17-19 May 2019.

Earlier this year, the EJC launched DataJournalism.com, a new space for journalists to learn and improve their data skills. Its DataJournalism.com team will co-organise two panels, one on local data journalism and one on the path for learning data journalism. EJC team members will also speak at further relevant panels.

Furthermore, the EJC provides four full DataJournalism.com scholarships for data journalists and journalism students from peripheral European countries and/or small newsrooms to attend the conference.

Brigitte Alfter, director of Arena for Journalism in Europe, says: “We are happy to continue the cooperation between the European Journalism Centre and the European Investigative Journalism Conference & Dataharvest. This cooperation started in 2018 and continues now that the conference is organised by the Arena for Journalism in Europe. We think this partnership brings excellent synergies and hope to develop it further in the years to come.”

Adam Thomas, director of the European Journalism Centre, says: “We think data journalism skills are a cornerstone of resilient newsrooms that are able to find and tell stories in new ways. DataJournalism.com offers free resources and courses for data journalists. With this partnership we hope to bring together the communities of Dataharvest and DataJournalism.com to support data journalists at all levels.”

Arena for Journalism in Europe is a foundation established in the Netherlands. Its purpose is to stimulate and support cross-border collaborative and investigative journalism in Europe, including collaboration with other professions, proceeding from the belief that such journalism contributes to information exchange, critical thought, mutual understanding and democracy in Europe.

DataJournalism.com provides data journalists with free resources, materials, online video courses and community forums. Once you sign in, you can enroll for free into one of the premium online courses or join the 9k members and discuss with other like-minded data journalism enthusiasts in our forums. DataJournalism.com is an initiative of the European Journalism Centre, sponsored by the Google News Initiative.

For further information please contact

Brigitte Alfter, director, Arena for Journalism in Europe, brigitte@journalismarena.eu

Adam Thomas, director, European Journalism Centre, thomas@ejc.net

News

Come prepared to the conference

Two weeks to the EIJC & Dataharvest 2019 opening! We are sooo ready to welcome you! This is what YOU can do to get the most value out of the conference:

  • Join the Facebook event and follow the news!
  • Follow @EIJConference on Twitter and see what people are saying before and during the conference!
  • Join the discussion at the EIJC Arena and start the networking about themes, tools and new investigations now!
  • Download the Sched app to your phone, so you get updated on the latest changes to the program!
  • And make or update your profile on Sched, so others can see who you are! Maybe you are just the person they need for their next investigation! On Sched you can also organize your program for the conference days and reserve a seat on the sessions with a limited number of seats.

Be prepared! – that way you will bring home the best output from Mechelen!