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Data journalism, Data visualisation

What data journalism told us about #Ferguson

Data journalism in 2014 has taken a shift towards instant reporting: today it is about applying analysis and discovering data around events in the news as soon as they happen.

It’s been a week since the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, what have we learned from data journalists about the events and issues behind the unrest which followed?

The first week of any news story is the time when data journalism can have the greatest impact. When people care about a story is the time to strike with the facts themselves. 

However, as of today none of the dedicated data journalism sites had Ferguson on their front pages, including 538, The Upshot and Guardian Data (which I used to edit). The startling exception is Vox, which has consistently covered the story in a comprehensive and informed way since it broke seven days ago but doesn’t yet have a dedicated data section. The Washington Post, too, has been particularly active.

So, here’s what we know:

 

1. Ferguson is 60 percent black. Virtually all its cops are white

Mother Jones: breakdown of crime figures in Ferguson

Mother Jones: breakdown of crime figures in Ferguson

Who: Mother Jones, Aug 13, 2014, , , and

Mother Jones was the first to cover this data, which is also since examined in other outlets, such as this video from a local Fox affiliate in St Louis.

 

2. U.S. Military equipment is used by police forces all over America

NYT: interactive of location of former US military equipment in police forces

NYT: interactive of location of former US military equipment in police forces

Who: New York Times interactive team, Aug 15, 2014, Tom Giratikanon, Alicia Parlapiano and Jeremy White

 

3. Police forces often don’t resemble the communities they serve

Washington Post: where polcie forces don't resemble their communities

Washington Post: where police forces don’t resemble their communities

Who: Washington Post, August 14, 2014, Dan Keating, Emily M. Badger and Kennedy Elliott

 

4. St. Louis is one of the most-segregated places in America

Washington Post: segregation across America

Washington Post: segregation across America

Who: Washington Post, August 11, 2014Emily Badger

 

5. Even though crime is going down, there are comparatively more police ‘justifiable killings’ now than ever 

The Fix: police 'justifiable police killings'

The Fix: police ‘justifiable police killings’

Who: The Fix, Aug 15, 2014Philip Bump 

 

6. What weapons St Louis County received from the Pentagon

Fusion: St Louis County equipment

Fusion: St Louis County equipment

Who: Fusion, August 15, 2014, Daniel Rivero

 

7. Missouri Highway patrol has one of the area’s fairest records on police stops

U.S. News: racial profiling of State departments

U.S. News: racial profiling of State departments

Who: U.S. News, Aug 15, 2014

Caveat about the next one: I made this in my work at @TwitterData. I think it’s fair to include: Twitter has been the way much of this story has been told in the past week.

8. There were over 6 million Tweets about #Ferguson around the world

Twitter map of geotagged Tweets mentioning Ferguson around the world

Twitter map of geotagged Tweets mentioning Ferguson around the world

Who: @TwitterData, published in: MailOnline, Washington Post, Mashable

 

What have I missed? Please add in the comments below

 

About Simon Rogers

Data journalist, writer, speaker. Author of 'Facts are Sacred', from Faber & Faber and a new range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Edited and launched the Guardian Datablog. Now works for Google in California as Data Editor

Discussion

7 thoughts on “What data journalism told us about #Ferguson

  1. This is so very helpful and useful! Thank you for compiling 🙂

    Posted by Brynn P | September 5, 2014, 7:21 pm

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About me

Data journalist, writer, speaker. Author of 'Facts are Sacred', published by Faber & Faber and a new range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Data editor at Google, California. Formerly at Twitter, San Francisco. Created the Guardian Datablog. All opinions on this site are mine, not my employers'. Read more >>

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