25.01.17

Join our Local Data Lab

I am currently the Data Lab’s sole member. And I’m recruiting.

At the end of last year I left my job as Data Editor at The Times and Sunday Times to head up the newly-funded Local Data Lab at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

It was sold to me as an innovative project aimed at bringing data-led investigations to local journalism.

The Lab would create one of the best data journalism teams in the UK and collaborate with a network of local journalists to find and tell powerful, regional stories.

My initial thought was “Well, that is ambitious”. Then immediately after: “And absolutely necessary”.

As more and more power is given to public bodies outside London, the UK also faces the decimation of regional newsrooms and crucial resources for investigative and data journalism.

This combination threatens transparency and accountability and poses a serious threat to democracy and a healthy press.

Yet I believe it can be combatted. And the Lab is one powerful solution.

It’s an ambitious and daunting one, but one I knew wanted to be a part of.

So, I took the job and now I’m after a team.

I’m looking for two members to join me in laying the foundation. This isn’t about getting in on the ground floor, it’s forming the floor itself. Every member of the team will take part in moulding this Lab over the next two years.

While that is exciting, it isn’t a lot to go on. Here is what I can tell you:

• We will take on datasets that have yet to be broken down to a local level, investigate and reveal stories not yet told and bring this to local journalists.

• We will be mobile, agile and innovative. The team will travel around the country to hear the ideas and challenges of regional reporters. We will listen, respond and learn so to provide evidence-based solutions.

• We will participate in all parts of the process. Every member will contribute to story ideas, data wrangling, problem solving, building and storytelling.

• We will participate in open journalism. We will publish public interest stories that throw light on local and national issues. We will open our data and code and document our shortcomings and learnings. We will push for greater transparency. We will foster collaboration between reporters and put power into regional journalism.

In order to deliver this, team members must be innovative, fluent in data wrangling and passionate about journalism.

That might be a journalist who uses computational method to find stories, an investigative or local journalist who regularly uses data, a tech or computer science person who is interested in local journalism or a civic tech person keen to get involved.

Sound like you? Apply as soon as possible! (See below)

Not you but want to be part of the network? Get in touch: [email protected]

I want to build a diverse, innovative and inclusive team so the members can reflect the perspectives of those across the UK. I encourage those from all identities and backgrounds to apply.

To apply:

Send a CV and covering letter (on why you want to be involved, what relevant experience you have and an idea for the lab) to [email protected].

Closing date 11pm, Wednesday February 1, 2017.

First wave of interviews will be held on Friday February 3, with a second wave the following week.

We have advertised for these roles before but are putting out one last, short call.

Salary: negotiable depending on experience.

Applicants must be eligible to work in the European Union.

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