Brazilian Data Journalists Shed Light on Amazon Rainforest Development

Jan 102014

The prediction of two icons of the communications field—that journalists would become data wranglers—is rapidly becoming a reality.

Reporter and professor Philip Meyer stated in his classic text Precision Journalism that “the world has become so complicated, the growth of information so explosive, that journalists need to be a filter as well as a transmitter; an organizer as well as an interpreter.”

Forty years later, Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, predicted that journalists in the future would be “data analysts.”

Much of the work in journalism today involves not only finding news stories behind datasets, but also creating new ways for the public to interact with the data themselves.

This important trend is at the core my ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship. In the past year, I’ve been working with a team of developers and journalists on the Environmental News Lab, or ((o))ecoLab, to build a tool to help people understand the issues behind important sets of environmental data.

The Lab recently launched its first experiment in partnership with Brazilian environmental news agency O Eco as well as the investigative team of journalists from Agência A Publica. The partners created, an interactive database with information about the loans made in the Amazon region by the Brazilian National Bank of Development, known as BNDES.

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The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.