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Chapter 9: Data Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

Better life. Better journalism.

In this chapter, Briggs talks all about the importance of organizing data and information – information that is as simple as the e-mails and spam you get on a daily basis in your inbox.  He calls it “digitizing your life,” which will eventually lead to digitizing your journalism.


Your digital life includes: E-mails, Quick searches (files on your computer or stuff off the web), Pictures, To-do lists, Calendar and Contacts and even your word office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint.

All of these tools create your digital life. And with that being said, you probably have experienced being overwhelmed with so many documents and files that you have no idea where to put them, besides the folders that are installed in your computer software. Well, good news. There are tons of ways to begin gaining habits in productivity.


Being productive is a learned habit. Those habits cannot be maintained just by downloading the software.  You must:

Organize your e-mail. Limit the time your e-mail program is up on your screen.  And then begin to focus on other tasks and duties done. Spend no more than two minutes on every e-mail. Any longer, create folder:

“Waiting On” Folder ~ Store e-mails that you are unable to respond without additional information

“Read This” Folder ~ Store e-mails that contain attachments or more information that can be read in 2 minutes

Find the right productivity tools. Try www.lifehacker.com for great resources for tips on productivity.


Most newspapers have databases like even calendars databases and spreadsheets. All web stories have data stored in them. Reporters and journalists form news stories based on information from databases and spreadsheets. This information includes:

Company Name(s)

Location of Headquarters


Years in Business



Other locations and contact persons

To build a spreadsheet or database, you can launch Excel or use Google Docs. You can organize contacts within a newsroom or company, form easy-to-read information sheets or freelance spreadsheets for your home or office.

Other terms to KNOW:

API (Application Interface Programming) is a connection of data and technology exchanged between two separate Web sites.

Map Mashups is “physical location data” that is organized according to its category or information type.


For further information, visit

NICAR (National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting)

for more data driven journalism.


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