Innovators in Data Journalism: An Interview with Yaru Wen

November 12, 2018

Topic(s):

Yaru Wen is a news reporter at China Global Television Network (CGTV) in Beijing. She is an alumnus of USCET’s data journalism workshop last year

Q: What is your view of data journalism as a news reporter?

A: I think that data can better help us evaluate the direction of a story. By looking at data patterns, we can see new potential angles that we didn’t know were there. For example, after determining which general topic we want to investigate, we can go and find relative data. Then, we can examine the data to find a specific topic. Also, data visualization can be very interesting. Through our analysis, we can give life to the data. We can combine different perspectives to tell a story. At present, data journalism is still a novel reporting method, which makes the news article richer and the content more diverse.

Q: What are some of the challenges that you face when working in data journalism? How do you cope with them?

A: I think there are two difficulties to working in data journalism in China. One is that data is hard to find. For example, one project I have done is about analyzing China's atmospheric PM2.5, but since there are very few official sources, we worry that the data from other sources may not be up to the standards of foreign outlets. The choice of data sources can affect the story’s coverage, so finding good ones is very important. Unfortunately, there are so few databases available in China that are reliable.

Second, people lack the professional experience that is necessary for processing and analyzing data. For example, when reporting an aviation accident, we should look for the data and information that can best reflect the severity of the aviation accident, which all requires experience. Similarly, an experienced team is also very important because they are better at finding and analyzing the data.

Q: Have you used any skills you learned from the workshop?

A: I’ve used a lot of the things that I learned from the data journalism workshop. This five-day course was relatively simple, but it helped me to open up my mind and enabled me to better understand the development of data journalism. The teachers in the workshop taught me the process of analyzing specific news production, from conception to option elimination to finalization. It's a process of getting close to the source of the news, and that process might lead me to a different result.

Q: Could you share with us your favorite data journalism project?

A: I really like one article from Reuters. The name is Life in the Camps. This article describes the sanitation situation in Myanmar by analyzing the distribution of slums, drinking water, and toilets. It also analyzes various phenomena and concludes that the mortality rate of diseases is related to the distribution of toilets. The Reuters team is very strong and experienced and has local partnerships, so their data is reliable.

 

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温雅茹在中国国际电视台CGTN工作,她同时也是USCET数据新闻工作坊的校友之一。

Q: 作为一个文字记者,能谈一谈你对在工作中结合数据新闻的看法吗?

我认为数据可以更好地帮助我们找到选题的方向,因为从数据中可以找到不一样的角度。比如确定大的选题方向后,去找寻数据,从数据的逻辑中找到想要做的题目。同样数据可视化也可以做的非常有意思,可以是结合不同的视角,讲述一个故事。数据可以不仅仅是冰冷,通过我们的分析可以给予它温度。数据新闻目前来说还是一个新颖的报道手段,这可以让新闻报道更加立体与丰富。

Q: 运用数据新闻是遇到过障碍吗?都有什么样的障碍以及如何克服它的?

我认为在中国做数据新闻最困难的点有两个。

一是数据难找。比如我有做过的一个项目是关于分析中国大气PM2.5,但是因为官方数据非常少,我们会担心从其它来源找到的数据很难被外媒认可。在数据上的选择会影响新闻的报道,所以数据的来源非常重要。但是很可惜,国内相关的数据库太少,以至于找不到合适、可信度高的数据。

二是专业经验的缺乏。数据新闻的处理和分析我认为是需要经验的。比如报道航空事故时,我们应该找寻什么样的数据和信息才最能够反映出航空事故的严重性,这些都是需要经验的。同样,一个成熟的团队也是非常重要的,因为成熟的团队拥有着丰富的经验,可以更好地找寻和分析数据。

Q: 现在在工作中有用到工作坊里学到的东西吗?

很多知识都有实践到工作中。五天的课程讲述的每个部分都比较浅显,但是帮助我的打开了思路,让我能够更加好的理解数据新闻的发展。工作坊的老师们教会了我分析具体新闻产生的过程,从设想到推翻到最后完善。这是一个靠近新闻本源的过程,这个过程中可能会让我发现不同的结果。工作坊很好的帮助我打开了思路,让我知道那些题目是可以从数据新闻入手的。

Q: 可以分享给我们一篇你认为不错的数据新闻报道吗?
一篇路透社的文章我认为非常不错,文章的名字时《难民营生活》。这篇文章是讲述了缅甸的卫生状况,分析了贫民窟、饮水源、和厕所的分布,分析了各种现象,总结出来疾病的死亡率与厕所的分布有关。路透社的这个团队非常强大,也非常成熟,与当地也有合作,所以他们的数据是可信度高的。

http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/010051VB46G/index.html