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 share knowledge that builds stronger, more inclusive practices in journalism. He's also part of Census Reporter, which makes census data easier for journalists to use, and was the senior editor for digital media at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.

  • 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 reporting, data journalism and data visualization. From 2000-2011, he worked for the St. Petersburg Times where he developed the Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact, was an investigative reporter for the Times and co-authored Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss. @mattwaite

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