“Data or it didn’t happen.”
The slogan on this year’s NICAR (computer-assisted reporting) Conference t-shirt said it all. Over the past decade the importance of (and desire for) data-driven journalism has expanded exponentially. As more data becomes available, and as more ways to creatively present that data become possible, the addition of data and digital experts to newsrooms is now essential.
ICIJ is no stranger to big data. Over the past two and a half years, our staff and members have worked together to decipher, organize and analyze one of the largest offshore data leaks ever received by a media organization – the 2.5 million files of the Offshore Leaks trove.
As part of our commitment to leading the way for collaborative big data projects in journalism, ICIJ has now hired two full-time programmers and a digital expert to further strengthen our data and online operations.
Rigoberto Carvajal is ICIJ’s new data analyst. He graduated from the Costa Rica Institute of Technology as a computer engineer, and has strong experience in software development and database administration and analysis. He is passionate about database technologies for business intelligence, but he discovered it can be even more rewarding to utilize all these powerful data tools in a newsroom, contributing to stories that have a global impact. He was previously chief analyst of the world-class investigative unit of Costa Rica’s La Nación, then led by the award-winning data journalist and ICIJ member Giannina Segnini.
Matthew Caruana Galizia was also part of that team and is now ICIJ’s new web applications developer. He holds a joint postgraduate degree from the Danish School of Journalism and City University London and was a Carnegie-Knight fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. While working at Financial Times Labs, he was a core developer on several products for the Pearson publishing group, including the FT Web App FT Tilt and the Economist web app.
Both of them had already collaborated with ICIJ in the Offshore Leaks investigation. Their knowledge was integral to the creation of the Offshore Leaks database, an interactive web application that allowed journalists and members of the public from around the globe to explore the complex and secretive networks of the offshore finance world.
Together Matt and Rigo will provide valuable data expertise to ICIJ’s global network of 185 reporters, and continue to build on the growing trove of data ICIJ has already collected, integrating and connecting datasets to make them more searchable, usable, and meaningful for investigative stories.
Earlier this year ICIJ also hired a new online editor, Hamish Boland-Rudder, to co-ordinate digital publishing. With strong experience in news websites and breaking news coverage at The Canberra Times in Australia, Hamish will focus on ensuring digital projects are innovative in presentation, and provide content that is compelling and engaging for an online audience. As a reporter, his work was published by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne), The Korea Herald, and various other publications.
ICIJ’s online and video storytelling will also be enhanced with the contributions of the Center for Public Integrity new multimedia editor, award-winning video journalist Eleanor Bell.
The expanding digital team won’t change what ICIJ does best – we’ll still focus on on-the-ground reporting, analysis unhindered by national borders, and telling stories about people and issues important to the world. But with more data and better digital tools comes more power, more depth, and greater impact for stories that otherwise might not be heard.
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