The Beauty of Data: USCET’s expanded platforms reaching thousands

February 24, 2017


What do you get when you mix USCET’s programming skills with great journalistic minds, a room packed with 500 attendees and an online audience of over 5000 viewers? The supremely successful TED-style talk that was held on February 19th at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, that’s what.  USCET’s Training of Trainers Conference ended on a high note with public talks discussing the latest trends in data journalism in China and globally. The talks were streamed on Tencent, China’s premier web portal, resulting in over 5500 people participating in the event.  The audience included students, faculty, journalists, designers, programmers, and media industry professionals from across China.

The stellar line up of Chinese and international speakers included Rufus Pollock, founder and president of Open Knowledge Foundation; Xiaoqian Wang, founder and editor-in-chief of DT Finance; Pili Hu, whose Data for News program earned the prestigious international SOPA 2016 Excellence in Infographics Award; Jonathan Soma, the director for the LEDE Data Journalism Program at Columbia University Journalism School, and Zhiyi Liu, the executive director of the highly popular Daily Toutiao that is at the forefront of big data analysis in China. The speakers inspired the audience of the merits of freedom of information, shared examples of how ordinary citizens in China are using big data in service of their own community, provided tips on how journalists and editors can use data and new platforms to enhance traditional journalism, and much more. At the end of three captivating hours, the speakers encouraged this highly diverse group of audience to use numbers as a tool for developing socially relevant stories.

The TED-style talk was the pinnacle event after a week-long workshop tailored for journalism professors who are teaching the fast-emerging field of data journalism in China. The intensive, hands-on training aimed to not only teach technical tools of the field, but also focused on teaching methodologies, how to collaborate with other disciplines to design data journalism programs, and international best practices in curriculum design. In addition to classroom training, USCET also organized a two-hour training via the Chinese social media mobile platform, WeChat. Over 80 people participated in the training on data visualization remotely via their phones.

This was the first activity that USCET conducted under the new NGO Management Law. USCET planned the activity with its partner, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, over a three month period. After extensive paperwork and a flurry of approval stamps, USCET was permitted to conduct the workshop and its associated activities. This achievement was a testament to the resilience of our partners and USCET’s continued dedication to the advancement of the journalism field in China.