Launching a MOOC for data journalism

Mass open online education courses – MOOCS – are transforming education. We’re working with the European Journalism Centre to bring journalism education online, offering a free web data journalism course ‘Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools.’

More than 14,000 participants have signed up. The course will officially start on May 19, 2014. It is part of the European Journalism Centre’s Data Driven Journalism initiative, which aims to enable more journalists, editors, news developers and designers to make better use of data and incorporate it further into their work. Started in 2010, the initiative provides resources for journalists through, the School of Data Journalism, and the Data Journalism Handbook.

Participants in the new online course will learn the essential concepts and skills to work effectively with data and produce compelling stories under tight deadlines. The line-up of instructors and advisors hails from journalism schools and media outlets around the world. Listen to them introduce themselves below – and enroll in the course.


Posted by Simon Morrison, Public Policy Manager
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Driving data-driven innovation at CeBIT

CeBIT is the worlds biggest IT-fair, attracting world leaders to make an annual pilgrimage to the Hannover Fair Grounds. This year, UK Prime Minister David Cameron joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the opening event. We came to advance the agenda of Data-Driven innovation.

In Germany, data all too often often is seen in a negative light. We believe it can be, properly used, a powerful motor for economic and social progress. We Accenture and Acatech that produced a report on Data-Driven Innovation, which was handed over during the fair to Chancellor Merkel. German corporate heavyweights including Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post, Siemens, Miele, Deutsche Telekom, SAP, and Thyssen-Krupp participated as well. The report’s conclusion was clear: Germany needs to embrace the value of data to remain competitive.

Data is not just a dry well of numbers. It can be used in exciting, dramatic and artistic ways as well. We partnered with “>CODE_n to run a DatenDialog in a hall surrounded by 50 start-ups under the topic of “driving the data revolution”. Artists Kram/Weisshaar visualized data from the Ngram viewer on a wall of 80mx20m, showcasing our partnership with the Bavarian State Library to digitise its priceless book collection.

Another priority for us at CeBIT was digital safety and literacy – closing the gap between the comfortable-with-Internet and the left-out less-comfortable-with-Internet. Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière visited the booth of our NGO partner Deutschland sicher im Netz and learned about our joint initiative “Digital Neighborhood.” It consists of a set of ready-to-use lesson plans for volunteer IT trainers who want to teach computer and Internet basics.

Germany needs to embrace the digital revolution in order to keep its position as one of the world’s economic and exporting powerhouses. In her keynote remarks, Chancellor Merkel acknowledged tremendous “respect” for the IT industry as a source of growth and praised is the emergence of a strong German Start-Up culture. Let’s hope these words soon will extend to praising the merits of data driven innovation.

Posted by Sandro Gianella and Sabine Frank, Public Policy, Berlin
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Injecting data into journalism

We’ve long believed that the vast amounts of information unearthed by the Internet can power innovations in journalism. That’s why we are supporting the European Journalism Centre’s new online data journalism course. Registration for Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools opened today at

This five-module introductory course will give participants the essential concepts, techniques and skills to effectively work with data to produce compelling and visual stories. It is open to anyone with an Internet connection and is due to start in early 2014.

The course features a stellar line-up of instructors and advisors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, New York Times, ProPublica, Wired, Twitter, La Nacion Argentina, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Zeit Online, and others. “Whether you want to get over your fear of Excel, learn the language of your data geeks, or discover how to tell stories with data visualisations, this course will help journalists and newsrooms learn how to take advantage of these invaluable skills,” said Josh Hatch, senior editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education and member of the course’s Advisory Board

There is already plenty of evidence of the opportunities and insights to be had in data driven journalism. We hope a graduate of this new course will soon be producing similar ground-breaking journalism.

Posted by Peter Barron, Direct, Communications, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Searching in Summer

For much of Europe, August is synonymous with holidays and we’ve been trolling through Google Trends’s new Hot Searches tool to see what is amusing, fascinating or titillating Europeans during the summer.

The clear winner – football.

Even before the Premier League kicked off, UK searchers went looking for game scores as lower Championship League swung back into action. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester United Wayne Rooney’s transfer sagas scored high and Charlotte Green’s appointment as the first woman announcer of the BBC’s Saturday Football topped the ranking of the August 7 Hot Searches.

In Germany, results of the first round of the DFB Cup, particularly Bayern Munich’s crushing 5-0 victory, led the August 6 results. Russians searched for the fortunes of the Anzhi team’s financial issues and St. Petersburg’s Zenit’s purchase of two players, full-back “Rubin” and Argentinian Cristian Ansaldi.

Admittedly, some serious issues received serious attention. When Bavarian judges ordered the immediate release of 57-year old Gustl Mollath, from an institution for the criminally insane, the legal scandal surrounding the case soared to the top of Germany’s searches. Severe storms affecting German train traffic received wide attention, as did Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post. Russians searched for news about government’s decision to accept American leaker Edward Snowden’s asylum request and the mass protest against a new Internet anti-piracy law.

Take a look yourself at Google Trends and see for yourself what people, places and issues are making waves.

Posted by William Echikson, External Relations, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Measuring the UK’s Digital Economy

The British mathematician and physicist Lord Kelvin famously said “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” In 1948, the post-war British Government badly needed to improve the nation’s economy. To help it draw up the right policies for jobs and growth, the Government took a scientific approach – one of which Lord Kelvin would have been proud. Government statisticians were instructed to count, classify and measure the economic activity of every business in the country. They developed a set of Standard Industrial Classification codes and the data they collected was used to shape policy in every aspect of the British economy.

This week, a new report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, and supported by Google, updates these SIC codes to include the new, fast growing digital sector.  After 65 years, the old codes are out of date. One in ten companies in the UK are now classified vaguely as ‘other’. One in five have no classification at all.

This new report is based on pioneering big data techniques. It draws not just from official tables and accounts but instead is gleaned from more than five billion data points, providing us with a level of detail and insight that statisticians in 1948 could scarcely have imagined.

The scale of the UK’s digital economy that emerges from this research is immense. In June 2013, the Government estimated from SIC codes that there were 120,000 businesses in the digital economy. The most conservative estimate from this new report of the number of digital companies is more than double government estimates – 269,695. In addition, the report found that digital companies employ 15% more, grow 25% faster than non-digital companies.

The digital economy has spread into every part of the United Kingdom, not just in London and the South East but throughout the country, with particularly great intensity in places like Manchester, Middlesbrough and Aberdeen. It has spread into every sector, from architecture firms whose activities have become almost entirely digital to machine tool manufacturers who now use huge online data-processing facilities, such as Hadoop, to monitor every aspect of their processes.

This is a groundbreaking work. For the first time in 65 years – it presents us with a new way of measuring the economy that can only help us to take the right steps to support growth and jobs.

Posted by Hal Varian, Chief Economist
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Data journalism awards shortlist announced

Not long ago, reporters digging through data set to tell stories, probe trends, and even uncover scandals was a novelty. They are now moving into the mainstream – and changing the field of journalism. One sign of this increased popularity comes from the success of the Google-supported Data Journalism Awards.

This year’s contest received 300 applications from all over the world, about 10 percent more than the previous year. The 73 finalists come from 19 different countries, ranging from Argentina to Venezuela. Major media groups as well as small, regional newspapers and research groups are included. Click here to get a full list of the shortlisted projects.

An independent jury presided over by former Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief and Pro-Publica founder Paul Steiger will award total of EUR15,000 to eight winning projects. For the first time, the public will chose a special “Public Choice Award.” Visit and vote for your avourite data application or visualisation. Take a look below at last year’s award ceremonies.

2012 Data Journalism Awards from Global Editors Network on Vimeo.

The winners will be announced during the Global Editors Network News Summit in Paris on June 20 at 6:15pm. All finalists are invited to attend the Data Journalism Awards ceremony.

Posted by Peter Barron, Director, External Relations
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Celebrating data-driven innovation in Brussels

Update, April 22: Videos of the innovation forum are now available. Take a look on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Foundation’s website or below:

We now create as much information every two days as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. And this rich flow is destined to accelerate. McKinsey projects 40% growth annually in global data generated. To showcase the potential of data for Europe’s economy and society, we recently teamed up with the European Institute of Inovation and Technology Foundation, the Bavarian Representation to the European Union and Euronews.

The forum, Data-Driven Innovation: The New Imperative for Growth, debated how data can improve the delivery of public services, provide accurate healthcare diagnosis, and generate higher business productivity. Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for education, culture and multilingualism, and Neelie Kroes, European commissioner in charge of the digital agenda, both called for unleashing a Big Data revolution in Europe. “This is the new frontier of the information age,” Vassiliou said. “In the current path to stimulate European growth and jobs, there has never been a more critical time to harness the potential of data.”

Androulla Vassilou
Alfred Spector

Debate Room

Senior representatives of the education, research, policy and business communities presented compelling evidence of how data could address big societal challenges. Computer-powered DNA sequencing open the possibility of accelerating medical diagnoses. Online college courses could revolutionize education. Google’s own Vice President for Research Alfred Spector showed how we use data for products such as Google Translate.

Data also is powering entrepreneurs. New online business models make sense out of data include social media power startups such as news organiser Storify. Its founder Xavier Damman explained how established organisations and top politicians such as BBC, the White House or UK Prime Minister David Cameron use his company’s services to share knowledge from different online data sources, including Twitter, Google+, and traditional media websites.

The concluding panel looked at the ethical aspects of collecting, sharing and using data. Among other examples, they discussed how organizations such as DataKind are bringing together data scientists and NGOs to address social problems ranging from dirty water to urban sprawl. While speakers stressed that data-driven innovation is not based exclusively on data about people, they acknowledge, that all data regardless the source and type requires making tough ethical choices.

The Innovation Forum aims to inject data-driven innovation on the Brussels policy agenda. As well as focusing on privacy and data protection, we also need to encourage the unprecedented economic potential of data.

Posted by Sylwia Giepmans-Stepien, Public Policy and Government Relations Analyst, Brussels
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