Inside baseball: What data journalism can learn from sports

  • Event: 2013 CAR Conference
  • Speakers: Ryan Pitts of OpenNews; Matt Waite of University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Jeremy Bowers of The New York Times
  • Date/Time: Saturday, Mar. 2 at 10:00am
  • Location: Regency North
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

This panel will identify areas for data journalism exploration by examining the current state-of-the-art baseball data analysis. Sports are the original form of data journalism -- box scores predate open government movements by about a century. And Joseph Adler's "Baseball Hacks" trained newbie Web CAR reporters how to scrape and analyze data sets using Perl and MySQL. Finally, sports analytics are a leading indicator for other kinds of analysis. Sensors, economic analysis, leverage are all de rigeur in baseball but still up-and-coming in data journalism. We'll take the concepts being used to analyze baseball, football, soccer and apply them to standard data journalism chores. A good example of this is leverage -- in baseball, an analyst attempts to find those situations in which a player had the greatest opportunity to change the outcome of a game. In data journalism, we might use a similar tool to analyze critical paths to an election win for a candidate or put together a network graph for bundled contributions to PACs.

Speaker Bios

  • Jeremy Bowers is the Senior Editor for News Applications on the Interactive News desk of The New York Times, leading a team of developers with a broad mandate to combine coding skills with journalistic sensibilities. Previously, Jeremy was a news applications developer for NPR Visuals, a senior software engineer at the Washington Post, and a news technologist at the St. Petersburg Times, where he worked on the Pulitzer prize-winning PolitiFact.

  • Ryan Pitts is a developer and journalist in Spokane, WA. He's the program lead for technology with OpenNews, a nonprofit organization that helps newsroom developers, designers, and data analysts collaborate and make their journalism more responsive and inclusive. He's also a board member and developer on the Census Reporter project, was the senior editor for digital media at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, and still writes Python for fun.

  • Matt Waite is a professor of practice in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He teaches courses in data journalism, web development and the intersection of storytelling and technology. From 2007-2011, he was a programmer/journalist for the St. Petersburg Times where he developed the Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact. Prior to that he was an award winning investigative reporter. @mattwaite

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