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May 27 2011


#Newsrw: ‘There is no point in having data unless you have context to go with it’

Open data is essential, but useless without context – that was the consensus at the local data session.

A lively debate took place, where delegates heard from a range of speakers and their attempts to fill the niche in local data, creating “open data cities” and encouraging transparency.

Greg Hadfield of Cogapp cited three key elements that were required to create an open data city.

“Data must be made available in a structured format, they must have a commitment to transparency and accountability, and be a city that thinks like the web,” he said.

Hadfield also mentioned the Road Map for the Digital City, a project based in New York headed by Rachel Sterne intended to provide a comprehensive guide to make it the leading digital city.

He also referenced his own experience in trying to transform Brighton into an open data city, saying the only organisation who weren’t part of a conversation that included councils, nhs trusts and businesses were the traditional media.

“Monolithic media is lacking in innovation, is organisationally dysfunctional, careless about readers, users and communities.

“It’s guilty of continuous betrayals of trust at the expense of journalists, communities and shareholders,” he said.

Philip John of the Lichfield Blog confirmed this view, saying that people who ran hyperlocal websites like his were often far more passionate about their local area than journalists who worked for local newspapers.

@philipjohn speaking at #newsrw by JosephStash

The Lichfield Blog was born out of connecting to the community and creating something more in tune with the people who live there.

“There is no point in having data unless you have context to go with it. If we’re talking about journalism, we’re trying to find a story,” he said.

Chris Taggart and Jonathan Carr-West (of OpenlyLocal and the Local Government Information Unit respectively) both touched on the idea of not confusing technology with innovation.

“What matters is not the technology or the tools, but the uses that you put them to. This is the new emphasis on openness,” said Carr-West.

He spoke about finding the right tool for the job, and not thinking there is a one-size fits all solution to finding and releasing data.

Taggart has a background in magazine journalism but identified the lack of local data that was available on the web when he started his OpenlyLocal project.

He spoke about the brilliant stories that journalists can find by digging in councils, and the new opportunities that open local data presented.

“The information is out there, but we have a lack of resources and journalists.

“The opportunity is out there, but we need people to chase it and follow it up,” he said.


LIVE: Session 3A – Local data

We have Matt Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow session 3A ‘Local Data’, below.

Session 3A features: Philip John, director, Lichfield Blog; Chris Taggart, founder, OpenlyLocal; Greg Hadfield, director of strategic projects, Cogapp; Jonathan Carr-West, director, Local Government Information Unit. Moderated by Matthew Eltringham, editor, BBC College of Journalism website.

Sponsored post

March 31 2011


news:rewired – hear more about ‘noise to signal’ from our speakers

On Friday 27 May Journalism.co.uk will bring you news:rewired – noise to signal, a one-day event for journalists and communications professionals who want to learn more about the latest tools and strategies to filter large datasets, social networks, and audience metrics into a clear signal for both the editorial and business side of the news industry.

The day will include sessions on: the data journalism toolkit and developing the data story; social media strategy, curation and news sourcing; and making the most of information about your audience.

We spoke to three of our speakers to give you a better idea of some of the issues that will be covered on the day.

Greg Hadfield, director of strategic projects, Cogapp, discusses his work on “open-data cities” and the benefits of open data to journalists, developers, and others; Robin Hamman, director of digital, Edelman, talks about innovation in social media strategy and where media organisations should start; and Matt Wells, blogs editor, the Guardian, explains why journalists should be making the most of social media platforms for news sourcing and verification.

Until 11 April tickets are available at our early-bird rate of £85 (+VAT), a discount of 35%. Buy tickets at this link.

January 20 2010




Greg Hadfield, Telegraph Media Group’s head of digital development, is leaving the company.

He explains here the reasons in The Guardian.

A good reading for any “Monolithic Media” gang.

He ends with a great message: the time for innovation and change is running out.

A serious call.

To survive, newspapers need to rethink radically not only their business models, but also how they manage their businesses; they need to overhaul outdated organisational structures; they need to consider how they relate to all their employees, to third-party providers of content and services, and to individuals with whom they may have no contractual arrangement whatsoever.

Most crucially, they need to rethink how they relate to their communities of readers, subscribers, and users, when they know next to nothing about members of their digital audience. They need to identify their most loyal users and then work harder to meet their individual needs.

No longer can newspapers survive by publishing at their readers, by talking down to them, by controlling what can and can’t be written or said. In future, they will have to provide – and share, not “own” – the online environment in which they can meet the needs of individual members of their community. They have to be part of social media, not monolithic media.

But for those newspapers that survive, it is going to be a long journey. Who knows how long? I suggested radical innovation may take five years … because the future always seems to be five years away.

At 53, however, I don’t have as much time as many to wait for the future. I want to help make it happen now.

(Picture by Graham Turner)

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