Journalists love stories. Give us a good anecdote and we know what our lead is going to be. We’re not as comfortable with data. We know a good story is hiding in there somewhere, but most of us don’t know how to find it. And too many of us — reporters and executives alike — are refusing to learn.
My first exposure to the use of data for journalism was when I was at the Kansas City Star (or possibly the Kansas City Times; I worked for both) nearly 20 years ago. The late Greg Reeves, a kind of geeky reporter I didn’t know very well but came to admire, wrote a terrific story about the driving records of Kansas City police. I don’t recall the details, but I was shocked at how many police had offenses such as reckless driving (I think drunk driving, too, but I can’t vouch for my memory over that many years). What I do recall is that I started to understand the power of data analysis. (more…)