MediaMill Gazette 57

Offshore leaks database, awards, tools and thinking about data portals.

Panama Papers database goes online

The ICIJ have released a database of the companies and trusts in the panama papers (and related investigations). Lots of fun to be had searching around. The usual disclaimers apply in terms of legitimate use of offshore services, but we are already seeing people diving in for a look.

Scottish investigative journalism site The Ferret, has mapped all the UK addresses in the database.  (h/t Owen Boswarva) Which is a nice map but personally I don’t know how I feel about the full addresses being used in this way (even with the disclaimer).

Open Data Filing cabinets or Open Data Clubs
I’ve been thinking about the way open data portals can help build and focus communities. Looking at portals for the MediaMill project we’ve seen distinct types of platform. They aren’t set and often portals move between these states. But the takeaway message is that, even though it’s challenging and often resource heavy,  portals that look out to communities and look at models for devolving ownership to communities look like a better bet for sustainability.

Thinking Outside the Portal
Mark Headd has also been thinking about the role of open data portals seeing them as a stage on a journney rather than a destination.

Open data Camp 3
Don’t forget its open data camp 3 this weekend. Its sold out but there is a waitlist 

The problem with “data sharing”
An interesting piece by Jerry Fishenden on the issues raised, but not necessarily dealt with in the  “Better use of data in government” consultation.

2016 Data Journalism awards announced. 
The shortlist for the Data Journalism awards where announced this week at the Data Journalism Unconference in New York. Lots of interesting stuff including a section on open data. Also worth noting is that in and amongst the Panama Papers and big media orgs is UK regional publisher Trinity Mirror’s  Data unit.

Cities are fast-forwarding central government and doing much more with Open Data
A report from the European Data Portal on the way that cities and open data work together to be smarter.”Discover what’s happening in the field of Open Data in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Stockholm and Vienna.”  It’s becoming quite interesting to see how cities seem to be politically devolving by default through data.

Eulogy for The New York Times R&D Lab
After 11 years the NYTimes has closed its well respected R&D labs. A shame, lots of experimentation and innovation there.

Data journalism’s commissioning problem
An interesting piece about how data journalism doesn’t fit into, or challenges, the traditional editorial commissioning process. A reaction and response to this piece about getting paid (or not)  for data journalism

Donald Trump, Nate Silver, and the Value of Data Journalism
A huge bun-fight over this article in data journalism circles as Nate Silver is called out for not ‘seeing’ Trump. A lot of people seeing it as a chance to ‘beat-up’ on data journalism. Silver has been in the firing line before as a poster boy for political data journalism, not least because he embarrassed a lot of pundits and exit pollsters in the last US election. Plenty of reaction, including from the man himself.

Seven weird ways that data is used
A bit click-bait but the examples are fun and show how engagement and tangible data is always worth considering.

Three Things You Can Do with Real-Time Dashboards
Another listicle! This time from ESRI thinking about realtime data dashboards.

Mapway celebrate 30 million downloads
Manchester based Mapway are celebrating hitting 30 million downloads across their portfolio of public transport apps. This includes 15 million lifetime downloads for the London Tube Map app built on open data.

How Sadiq Khan can make the London administration transparent
A piece by TalkAboutLocal’s Will Perrin offering some advice on how the new mayor of London can keep his word to be more transparent. Clue: Sort out the FOI backlog.

VIDEO: How the data team at the FT is moving forward as audiences go mobile
A great piece from on the way the FT approach data journalism. Martin Stabe, head of interactive news at the FT has been building a brilliant team there.

Github introduce unlimited private repositories
Good news if you like your data teams distributed and version controlled. A few people have noted the different pricing structure for individuals and organizational clients.  Github say you’re not forced to move on to the new plan as an organisation “Rest assured” they say, “you’ll have at least 12 months notice before any mandated change to your plan”. Whilst, on the subject of Github…

New York Times:Our Tagged Ingredients Data is Now on GitHub
The New York times has published a dataset of “roughly 180,000 labeled ingredient phrases that we used to train our machine learning model.”

Open data feeds the poor 20,000 tonnes of food per year in Washington DC
A nice piece on the way a US foodbank service is using open data to predict demand and target supply. Good social value.
Google News gets new Local Source tag to highlight local coverage of major news stories
One of interest to hyperlocal and regional news and content people. Google is taking steps to recognise publishers who historically publish a lot of content about a location “by highlighting the original sources of local stories that subsequently become national or international talking points.”
Report:Journalists in the UK
For the Journalist readers, this report on the state of UK journalists (busy but committed) makes for generally interesting reading. For data journalists in particular don’t expect any recognition. It’s not really the aim of the report to be fair. But when data does, a mention, by way of information sources, its interesting to see the journalistic lens of accountability looms here as the general note that government published data cant be trusted sets the tone.


  •  – A nice online geojson creator. Place your markers etc. on a map and it writes the JSON for you!
  • Google Spreadsheet Geocoding Macro – A very useful macro that will automatically geocode (lat/long) addresses in google sheet. It will also do it the other way round, resolving Lat/Long to the nearest address.

GitHub Experiment: Mapping the civic tech community
A nice interview with Stefan Baack and the development of his analysis of civic tech on Github