Winter break – using data in the newsroom

Over the past few weeks I have had my first experience of using data journalism in a national newsroom during placements at the Independent and the Telegraph online.


At the Telegraph I was working on the Interactive team, who are commissioned regularly to make graphic-led news stories. What made this placement so interesting was the chance to work with the team of designers who were more than willing to tell me about what makes a good graphic.

It also gave me a chance to compile together a series of datasets to make stories. The story that I am proudest of was definitely this:

Interactive Graphic - telegraph

Using season ticket data for the past two seasons (compiled by the Telegraph last season and the BBC this season) we worked out how much each goal cost the fan with the cheapest season ticket last season.

Fans at Liverpool were paying in excess of £30 for each goal scored while fans of Manchester City could pay less than £5 for a goal. Clicking on each club will also tell you how much the season ticket has increased/decreased. As City’s cheapest ticket has not increased  by much at all they seem like a pretty sound investment for an exciting game.

The Independent

I was not working on the news desk at The Independent but sitting with the online team. I did have a play around with the census data in my own time when it came in and found which towns now had more part-time female workers than full-time female workers. Most of these places seemed to be holiday destinations (such as the Derbyshire Dales and bits of Cornwall/Devon).

However, the statistical change was so minimal from the last census that it did not seem significant enough to run a story on. This underlined the importance to me at heading towards data with a hypothesis and not just aimlessly fishing around – fun though it is.

The highlight of my placement was undoubtedly this:

Independent front page!

I am still buzzing about being on the front page of a national but am not going to go too into depth on what I did for this story. My only comments are that a decent knowledge of Excel is so useful when working with surveys and that good admin sometimes equals good journalism.


Data byline: “Interactive graphic: the real value of every Premier League club compared” – Telegraph online

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 12.19.38


Using Premier League clubs that were in the league over two seasons, we divided the cost of the cheapest season ticket by the number of goals. Manchester City came out at the best value by far (despite being winners of the league). It was actually relatively difficult to find this data as price surveys of the British game, such as the BBC’s Price of Football change their goalposts – or as I play the game, jumpers on the ground in the park – over a couple of years. They were not collecting data for the cheapest season ticket during the 2010/11 survey. The Telegraph had luckily got what we wanted themselves though so we worked with that.

This also brought home to me the abundance of great sport data there is – only scratching the surface with this.