NICAR 2019 Lightning Talks

Submit a talk by February 8th. Voting begins Feb. 15th (10 a.m. Eastern) and closes Feb. 22nd (11:59 p.m. Eastern).

27
votes

5 ways to write racist code (with examples)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York “stop-and-frisk”, Twitter sentiment analysis -- The programs we write, the data we analyze, and the assumptions we make have the potential for unintended consequences to creep into our work. These consequences have the ability to hurt people of color and other marginalized groups. In this lightning talk, learn how these problems begin, see working examples of these, and learn how to recognize and correct it in your next project!

0
votes

Walking Around Inside Your Data

Virtual reality brings another dimension to visualization. In this talk I will demonstrate Geometric a web-based tool developed by Datavized that automatically creates interactive 3D 360° scenes from geospatial data.

8
votes

Tempus fugitaboutit

As we all know, the only thing harder than naming things is counting things. And one of the hardest things to count is time. If you're counting down the hours or minutes until, say, when the polls open in Indiana or an execution in Arizona, things get can get even messier. Let's talk about why time zones drive me crazy and some handy tools for managing the madness.

16
votes

How To Use Your Data Skills To Gain Financial Independence

What would be different if you didn't *need* your paycheck? Would you take three day weekends and coach your daughter's softball team? Would you turn down stories you didn't want to do? Or would you just quit your job altogether?Data journalism isn't just on the higher paying end of reporting jobs, it gives you the mindset to think about how you could become financially independent of your job entirely — and the skills to pull it off.

4
votes

A Perfectionist Learns To Learn On The Fly

The first time I ever opened QGIS, it was to clean up a geodatabase with more than 20,000 features. This is how trial and error, Google searches and a very patient boss helped me let go of my perfectionism and learn how to make my first map.

11
votes

Meet the TakenBot

How’s this...Meet the Pulitzer Center’s first interactive Twitter bot. TakenBot feeds journalists up-to-date federal law enforcement data on asset seizures by law enforcement agencies. The Center's Steve Sapienza and Maptian’s Dan McCarey will introduce you to TakenBot and its capabilities, as well as provide info about joining a collaborative investigative reporting project that is monitoring property seizures by police forces called Taken.

7
votes

Teaching Coders How to Journalist

There is plenty of support for "teaching journalists how to code," but what support exists for "teaching coders how to journalist"?A journalist might want to learn how to code. This doesn't mean they're trying to become a full-time, full-stack programmer — their goal might be to do a bit of data analysis in R, or scrape some data with Python. Plenty of resources, classes, and humans exist to help this reporter.What can we say about the programmer who wants to learn how to "do journalism"? They, like the reporter, are not trying to change careers, but simply hope to learn the basics of a craft. What resources do they have? What boundaries stand in their way? Can we find — or build — a set of resources that bridge these gaps?

10
votes

How do you visualise an election result with no political parties?

I'll talk about the process of visualising last year's Afghan parliamentary vote starting with a 150mb CSV file of the 2010 results and no prior knowledge of the election system.

2
votes

How common is your birthday?

Seven years and more than a million page views later, a silly personal blog post about which birthdays are most common in the United States still inspires wonder on the Internet. What I've learned about data visualization — and the gestation period of human beings — from one imperfect chart.

11
votes

I survived an innovation lab, and you can, too

Let's face it: The NICAR-attending journalist is an ambitious journalist, willing to grapple with diverse topics and technology, and stretching the boundaries of what we call news. But warning: This type of spirit might get you recruited into your organization's "innovation lab," and to be sure, having "innovation" in your title or team name carries some risks. Reid Williams has survived not one, but two innovation lab stints in his time at Gannett and lived to tell about it. Reid will share tips on why should take that leap if it comes and how to survive beyond it.

6
votes

Inspector Padurii, or protecting trees with tech

How do investigative environmentalists save Romanian forests from corrupt politicians and illegal loggers? We'll show you how we took open data and GIS analysis into the field to catch illegal loggers in the act.

8
votes

What in the world is a public radio?

You just finished listening to a great show on your local public radio station when suddenly you are bombarded... You've got your APM, your NPR, and your PRI. You've got your WGBH and WBUR, your KCRW and KPCC. There are content producers, content distributors, podcasting companies, and at least one public radio exchange. There are so many amalgamations of letters that it is confusing even for people in public radio. In this talk, I will try and explain how the confusing world of public radio system fits together.

14
votes

The Best Tools for Dead-Simple Machine Learning

Did you know you can build custom machine learning models to analyze text, photos, and videos without writing a line of code? In this talk, I'll introduce the absolute easiest tools to get started with machine learning and show how they can be used to write data-driven stories.

20
votes

Have a heart and you'll get your dream team

There's many simple ways to show compassion in the newsroom. So why do reporters often feel like their editors don't care about them? And why are editors often afraid (or quick to forget) to have a heart? Here's 10 ways to show you care and mean it — and help you build a team that gets along and kicks ass at the same time.

1
votes

SQL training gym for non-engineer

In Nikkei, Japanese business news media company, there is the "Dojo" of SQL training. "Data Dojo" is 3 months training for non-engineer, marketer, journalist, designer and so on.Basic SQL knowledge for data analysis to retrieve data from data warehouse.Now more than 100 non-engineer can write SQL on redash.

6
votes

20 data points, 100 visualizations: How to pick a visualization type and not die in the attempt.

With 10 data points we get at least 3 different visual stories. Double the number of data points and you get overwhelmed by the amount of visualization types that you could use. How to pick the best? I will tell you some tips and show you an open source web app (built with R) to help you pick the right visualization type.

5
votes

Funny but not: Teasing out lightness in serious news

Cartoon Trump pop-ups, walking donkey and elephant SVGs, headlines with words like "braggadocio" - POLITICO Interactives has found its way around bringing some humor into our workplace and stories without compromising the weight of the political landscape. The balance is delicate, though. Come learn about how we experiment and iterate through games and politics. Also, a one-minute walk-through of how to cartoonify any public figure on Adobe Illustrator!

6
votes

20 data points, 100 visualizations: How to pick a visualization type and not die in the attempt.

With 10 data points we get at least 3 different visual stories. Double the number of data points and you get overwhelmed by the amount of visualization types that you could use. How to pick the best? I will tell you some tips and show you an open source web app (built with R) to help you pick the right visualization type.

4
votes

Why you blocked Europe and I block your ads

What's so important that over a thousand American news sites shut their doors to the EU? Personal privacy, computer security, and happy browsing in the modern cyberpunk ad world.

3
votes

Can we build an open source alternative to tableau?

Spoiler alert: yes, with R!

4
votes

Tidying up your data ... with tidyverse in R or Marie Kondo?

Both our data from day-to-day and homes need a lot of love and care and attention. While the tidyverse in R is specifically designed for data, we can make our worlds outside work full of rows and columns that do fit well together - taxes and budgets could never defeat us again! Nor could piles of laundry. KonMari principles are also fun for neatly folded clothes, but how about dealing with nested items in our data better? Find what sparks joy in both data and homes! We all love messes anyways.

27
votes

How to build a massive database that no one wants you to build

A condensed primer on how we built The Force Report, the most comprehensive statewide database of police use of force, from 506 FOI requests

10
votes

48 weird things we learnt from Google search data

Google Trends data can help predict election results; show what we care about around a government shutdown and reflect changing social attitudes. But it can also tell us a ton of weird stuff about ourselves. This talk will be an entertaining jaunt through:- What time of the morning do we all wake up?- Where in the world gets most excited about Christmas?- Which city searches for love the most?- What do people in India search about Donald Trump?- Which emoji do we search for the most?

7
votes

Hey, come look at this man behind the curtain!

The idea of building interactive web journalism projects can be intimidating — but those projects you admire aren't always as seamless as they first appear. Often, there are things the people who created the projects would rather you didn't notice, because we're all making this up as we go along. We'll show you the "seams" of our favorite interactive projects -- ones we've made and some we've admired, where we had to cut corners, use workarounds or come up with strange techniques to make something that looks smooth and polished to the user.

17
votes

Save Student Newsrooms. How you can help the next generation of journalists.

Last year, more than 100 student newspapers banded together to advocate for themselves and the issues they face, including loss of independent funding and censorship by their institutions. Advocacy by students is a start, but professional journalists must play a role in safeguarding independent student journalism as mentors and advocates for the future generation of reporters. Listen to takeaways from

1
votes

Can we build an open source alternative to tableau?

Spoiler alert: yes, with R!

7
votes

"You Don't Suck At Statistics, Statistics Sucks At Human Cognition"

It's not you, it's statistics! Well, not statistics per se, but rather statistical notations. If you've ever been confused by them, it's not your fault. Statistical notations are rife with inconsistencies, implicit details, and overlapping symbols (Why?! If things are different, they should look different). This is a talk about how to recognize when this is happening, and what to do about it. As it turns out, principles of data visualization apply to equations too.

23
votes

FOIA is my API

Sometimes FOIA is your only option to get the records you need. But writing emails doesn't scale well when you're submitting and tracking requests to hundreds or thousands of agencies. In these situations, you can write computer programs to write emails for you, relying on the Freedom of Information Act to do the heavy lifting. I'll talk about some tools I've built to send requests, track responses and even read the attachments that come back.

1
votes

How to do things right

Introducing coding standards and best practices in non-technical tech spaces

11
votes

Compared to what? A case for small multiples

"At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question: Compared to what?" Often in data visualization, there's no better way to answer Edward Tufte's core question than with small multiples, a.k.a. grid, lattice or trellis charts. Let's talk about the most useful examples out there — and why (and how) you should emulate them.

3
votes

How Are Press Freedoms Violated? Let Me Count the Ways

We wish we didn't have to talk about this, but we do. Threats to press freedom are real and serious, from subpoenas for confidential sources, to arrests and attacks. Learn how the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is gathering accurate numbers around these threats, and where you come in.

8
votes

Hearing Data As Music

Are ‘silent’ data visualizations like silent movies? Sound adds a new layer of understanding. In my talk I will demonstrate data sonification using TwoTone, a free and open-source web app my company Datavized made with the support of Google News Initiative.

8
votes

In Memoriam: the data tools we lost in the last year

Dearly belovèd, we are gathered here to celebrate the lives and mourn the losses of those reporting tools that have left us. Google Fusion Tables was a tool that many interactives, graphics, and workflows were built around. It was discontinued in January 2019. It's not the only tool or resource that's been lost to us since NICAR 2018. This lighting talk will remember the tools that have been shut down, canceled, retired, turned down, or otherwise lost, tying to get through as many as possible in the time available.

1
votes

Don't try geometry at home

Even if you are confident in writing code to process what you want, don't try computation of geometric data by yourself.

10
votes

Who we leave behind when we go all-out online

In an effort to engage our audiences, do we stop to consider what tools they have in order to access that content? If we have actionable info for people who need it, do we put that in the lede? Or do we bury it for people who have the time to read the article? Let’s explore what seemingly outdated tools can do to cut to the chase and close information gaps, using the Outlier SMS messaging model.

20
votes

Blindspotting: Covering communities you’re not a part of.

Stories about marginalized communities need to be told in a manner that does them justice and doesn’t further perpetuate harm. But it’s hard to tell these stories in an effective manner when you’re not a part of those communities.I will talk about how we can use fault lines and intersectionality to combat our own blind spots and biases to produce better journalism.

10
votes

Covering Congress From A Million Miles Away

Just because you're not in Washington doesn't mean you can't cover Congress. There are lots of data sets published by the House and Senate that can help you -- yes, YOU -- report on your representatives. I'll show you (quickly) how to find and use them.

2
votes

Help a High School Class!

I've created a 10-unit investigative journalism curriculum to help high schools do investigative projects. The curriculum, in part, relies on active participation by local journalists willing to volunteer. I want to pitch the room on helping high school teachers take this on: They can help the teacher file a records request, give a structured talk on an investigation they've done, and be a sounding board for the classrooms as they tackle their investigation. The curriculum contains tools for all of these tasks, and it's easy to do! Let me show you how!

9
votes

Mindful data analysis: tackling mental health with the tools we have at hand

This is a talk drawing upon personal experiences with dysfunctional systems to better care for my mental health, and learning to use technology to build direct interventions. I'll be talking about building two apps relating to mental health - one to relieve the stress of a college student, the other for therapists on college campuses to prioritize students based on their phone calls using speech-to-text transcription and sentiment analysis. Creatively solving problems that have slightly selfish intent is really liberating, especially while thinking about the data powering it. However, even in all of that as people constantly looking at data we need to remember that every data point is a person and we're represented somewhere in these numbers too. Our work helps people like us do better - so let's do better when working with data and unlearn some biases and always work with good intention!

8
votes

Accessible design for assistive technologies

How do users who are blind or with low vision navigate your web site or appreciate all those exceptional, hand-crafted visualizations? With a little thought and foresight, you can make your content much more accessible to assistive technologies like screen readers and magnifiers.

22
votes

911, What’s Your Emergency: how insider knowledge of law enforcement has been an asset

I used to be a 911 dispatcher where I learned a lot about the language, processes and attitudes of law enforcement in the United States. That knowledge recently became an asset as I explored and cleaned 9 years of a police department’s calls for service. I’ll share some of these insights and how to decode certain types of police data.

3
votes

"What We Talk About When We Talk About AI"

AI in journalism: What does that even mean? We've seen examples of what it's currently being used for. What are some areas of news that have yet to be mined by AI?This talk is a quick round-up of how AI is being used at Bloomberg, for breaking news, as well as investigative reporting. That will be followed by a look at the many different problems that are being tackled in AI and how those can be applied to the future of journalism.

10
votes

Why installing Python is the most painful part of NICAR

Whether it's for NICAR, a new computer, or a simple upgrade, setting up Python is a ever-ending dumpster fire. Learn the pains of the PATH, what in the world .bash_profile is, why that period is *not* a typo, and how to (kind of, maybe, somewhat) make those struggles go far far away forever.

19
votes

My own worst enemy: Overcoming impostor syndrome*

Ever feel like you're a fraud and it's only a matter of time before someone finds out? Congratulations! You have impostor syndrome! Learn strategies to silence your inner contrarian.*Note: speaker may not be qualified to give this talk.

15
votes

How to write a data story in five minutes

What does it mean to be a data analyst, a coder, a designer, or all of the above -and- a journalist? The chart maker at the graphic desk writes story. The computer's guy leads investigations. How's our work fit into the traditional way of talking about journalism? There are ambiguity, confusion and reluctancy. But there is a framework. I'm going to talk you through the framework, something you can use to inform your reporting process, as well as answer the question "What do you do as a data journalist?"

22
votes

How to beat a serious case of the post-project blues

The glory of your grand investigation has faded, readers have moved on and editors are asking what you've got next. But all you want to do is hide under your desk with a weighted blanket. The post-project blues are legit and need to be recognized. I'll call them out and share ways reporters can cope and editors can help.

3
votes

Think like a caveman

It was about eight hours to deadline, and I decided I wanted to analyze Twitter data regarding a recent scandal at my university. Had I ever worked with Twitter data before? No. Did it work when we tried the traditional routes? No. So, we thought outside the box and tapped into our caveman instincts to collect 20,000 tweets for free using a couple of rocks and it actually worked.

3
votes

Pivot to XR

This isn't video. This isn't VR. This is the next disruption that we need to harness for journalism. Currently, most of AR content consists of cute gimmicks like a dancing hot dog or face altering filters. My students and I have hijacked this tech to bring homelessness into someone's living room or showcase artifacts left behind by undocumented migrants. This new tech doesn't require expensive head-gear, nor is it so expensive that only large news organizations can produce experiences. This accessible technology is ready for us all to use now. I'll tell you how.