Ashley Kirk portfolio
Organisation: The Telegraph (United Kingdom)
Publication Date: 03/21/2017
Size of team/newsroom:large
DescriptionI am a data journalist at The Telegraph and a visiting lecturer in data journalism at City University London. As the first member of the publication's data desk, I have innovated how The Telegraph communicates statistics and data-led stories. The data team is now an important part of the newsroom, with data journalists like myself integrated with subject desks and a data-focused section of the site: TeleGraphs. This has helped drive data-led storytelling to a position where it is now essential within the newsroom's output. Over the course of 2016 and 2017, I have been involved in producing data-led stories on a variety of subjects - from Brexit to the Apprentice TV show, from Africa's population forecasts to the misery of commuters on cancelled trains. This has meant ideas creation, sourcing and scraping data, cleaning it, analysing statistics and communicating these results - whether that is through text, static graphics or interactive visualisations. Aside from this, I have been teaching data journalism at City University London, helping to build new ideas for data journalism among the new generation of reporters. Some of the data journalism that I am most proud of this year include: Analysis of Donald Trump's win and the demographic forces behind it (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/09/hillary-clinton-failed-to-win-over-black-hispanic-and-female-vot/); Previewing elections across Europe in 2017 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/dutch-election-far-right-could-win-not-rule-country-known-liberal/); Documenting the photos and information of 2016's victims of American mass shootings (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world/the-face-of-americas-gun-problem/); News stories such as uncovering the 640 train journeys that are cancelled daily in Britain (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/is-yours-the-rail-network-which-has-cancelled-the-most-trains-in/); Developing new journalism tools such as a postcode search to find out how air pollution impacts people near readers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/high-air-pollution-city-does-compare-themost-polluted-cities/); And weekly factchecking of Prime Minister's Questions (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/14/prime-ministers-questions-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-mays-claims/). An integral part of my mobile-first visual storytelling is my effort to make data more accessible for Telegraph readers. By integrating text, graphics and other visual elements, I aim to open up key subjects to our audience, who aren't specialists across all the topics I cover - such as news, politics, culture, economics, business and sport. This ensures that my data journalism can be made relevant and interesting, helping them to gain a valuable reading experience. More recently, this accessible multi-platform approach has been applied to social media - a key focus of our new strategy - where I have used animated and static graphics to encourage users to engage with our data-led, detailed analysis.
What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?I have produced over 100 data-led Telegraph stories over the year, using and developing a variety of tools. I have sourced new data and discovered new ways to explain key issues. Through my work for The Telegraph and the TeleGraphs site, I have been part of an initiative to integrate data throughout the newsroom. Data-driven visual journalism is no longer an isolated approach but is embedded throughout the subject desks. While I am currently embedded on the news desk, helping to develop data journalism in our news coverage, I have worked with a variety of teams on many different topics. During the Brexit referendum, I produced a series of data-led stories and visualisations - all responsive and up-to-date - to explain the unprecedented decision. This included poll trackers, voting pattern analysis and scrutiny of public figures in a debate renowned for a misuse of statistics. This fact-checking, done in collaboration with Full Fact, was then developed into a weekly feature analysing Prime Minister's Questions. Further electoral analyses focused on the US and Dutch elections, attempting to explain the forces behind other anti-establishment movements. Elsewhere, I have used data to uncover hard-hitting reports. This includes visualising the 640 train journeys that are cancelled daily in the UK, and revealing how the Chancellor's Budget could impact specific Telegraph readers. I documented the photos and information of 2016's victims of American mass shootings and told the story of them in a custom interactive project. I have also taken part in wider newsroom innovations, including the development of new tools in our Particle CMS such as our postcode lookup tool which aims to personalise stories - such as one on British air pollution - for our individual readers. Such initiatives help to make data-led tools, such as charts, information-lookups and budget calculators, easy for all reporters to use and a crucial part of our innovative reporting.
Technologies used for this project:The Adobe Suite, R, QGIS OutWit Hub, HTML/CSS, Highcharts, Microsoft Office and Google Drive are just some of the tools I use to help tell data-led stories.
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