Innovators in Data Journalism: An Interview with Luming Zhao

October 8, 2018

Topic(s):

Zhao Luming specializes in data journalism at China’s Jiefang Daily and Net Ease News. He participated in USCET’s data journalism workshop at Fudan University last fall.

Q: How did you become interested in data journalism?

A: I was first introduced to data journalism when I took a journalism course at East China Normal University. I quickly became very interested in the subject, because it integrates three of my passions: technology, design, and journalism.

Q: Could you tell us about a piece you worked on that you’re proud of?

A: I’m most proud of an article I wrote in November of 2017 about the Shanghai Marathon. For this piece, I collaborated with the marathon's organizing committee to gather data about marathon events over the past five years. We analyzed the last five years of data on finishing times, top ten runners, and number of participants. We compared China’s results to those of other countries.

Because we had the opportunity to collaborate with the committee, we were able to publish the news in just a few hours after the marathon finished. Therefore, our news was timely, authoritative, and unique. However, it was challenging to look for newsworthy information from a huge pool of raw data. We decided to organize the data into tables and look for any trends.

Q:  What is the most challenging aspect of being a data journalist?

A: The most challenging aspect for me is acquiring the skills needed to be an effective data journalist. Data journalists must be proficient in several different information technologies. The expected skill sets keep expanding. Four to five years ago, it would be enough if you knew how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, but that’s not the case anymore. Chinese audiences in particular only want stories that are new and different. They want something that gives you a brand new experience, and we have to keep expanding our skill sets to fulfill their needs. I use the internet to acquire new skills I may need in future projects.

Q: How is data journalism conducted at your news agency?

A: At Jiefang Daily, we do not have a specific data journalism column. We pick some current events in advance and then decide which topic we want to focus on. This work is mainly done individually; however, when it comes to collecting data and writing articles, we work in teams. At NetEase News, my job is to pick a topic, collect data on it, and then write an article about it. We have a professional graphic designer to do the data visualization part.

 

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赵鹿鸣在解放日报和网易新闻做数据新闻记者,同时也是数据新闻工作坊的校友之一。

Q:你是如何对数据新闻产生兴趣的?

华东师范大学开设了数据新闻课程,此前不知道数据新闻概念,接触后迅速产生兴趣,技术设计新闻三个的结合,正好融合三个我感兴趣的方向。

Q:可以分享给我们一篇你感到自豪的文章吗?我们想知道写这篇文章的过程中发生的故事——为什么你为这篇文章感到自豪?在写文章的过程中有遇到什么困难吗?

我最自豪的是我在2017年11月写的一篇关于上海马拉松的文章。在这篇文章中,我与马拉松组委会合作收集了过去五年马拉松赛事的数据。我们分析了过去5年的数据,包括比赛结束时间、前10名选手和参赛人数。我们将中国的结果与其他国家进行了比较。

因为我们有机会与委员会合作,我们能够在马拉松比赛结束后的几个小时内发表新闻。因此,我们的新闻是及时的、权威的、独特的。然而,从大量原始数据中寻找有新闻价值的信息是一项挑战。我们决定将数据组织到表格中,并寻找规律与趋势。

Q: 当数据新闻记者遇到的最大障碍是什么?

我遇到的最大障碍是技术。数据新闻对记者多种信息技术的掌握,提出新的要求,要求不断升级。4、5年前会PS、AI,做信息图就不错了,现在希望你能会更多。

在中国的话,中国互联网使用用户在使用产品求新求异的心是很强的,会想要更多的体验方式,受众变化很大。

Q:贵通讯社是如何进行数据新闻的?

在解放日报,我们没有专门的数据新闻专栏。我们会提前选择一些时事,然后决定我们要关注的话题。这项工作主要是单独完成的;然而,当涉及到收集数据和撰写文章时,我们是团队合作的。在网易新闻,我的工作是挑选一个话题,收集它的数据,然后写一篇关于它的文章。我们有一个专业的图形设计师来做数据可视化部分。