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Opinionated data a necessity for journalists April 4, 2008

Posted by Robert Rich in symposium.
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With the influx of sites that provide users with enormous amounts of data, the presence of “opinionated data” with context and analysis is more important than ever.

Aron Pilhofer, the Editor of Interactive News at The New York Times spoke about the paper’s interactivity program, comprised seven journalists and developers based entirely in the newsroom.

“We are a news desk, not a software shop,” Pilhofer said. “We’re focused on journalism.”

With that in mind, Pilhofer mentioned some points that interactives should be following in their development:
– They should be steeped in context and analysis
– They should invite exploration and discovery
– They should provide a venue for sharing
– They should be portable
– Data should be useful, not ubiquitous

“Throwing data online without context analysis is what machines do,” Pilhofer said. “It’s not what journalists we do. We provide that context.”

So what was the payoff for the Times’ use of opinionated data?

“People want this information, and they want it desperately,” Pilhofer said.

He also said that any paper can run talented interactives programs.

“It’s mostly small teams of two or three people,” Pilhofer said. “Chances are you have this kind of data in-house, you just need to marshal that information.”

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