Journalist <match> Data Scientist

Today I got an email from—which is a neat website that I’ve found some nice datasets on—that was soliciting help for a reporter in finding some data.

The request was:
Reporter seeks data…can you help?

A reporter with NJ Advance Media, whose publications reach 6.6M people monthly, is looking for the following data:
How many people in each state take care of elderly relatives (e.g., in-home support, transportation, keeping track of their bills, etc.)? County-level data also sought.
What is the associated labor “cost” of this family elder care?
Do you have, or know of, data this reporter seeks?

I don’t have the data they’re seeking, but what stood out to me was the power of this sort of connection. As someone who often works on short projects for fun, and who has a lot of experience procuring data, this excited me.

The Means of Production

Let’s consider a hypothetical, you’re a (potentially freelance) journalist who has an idea for an article. The article involves some data analysis as part of the story. Let’s also assume that your technical skills in data acquisition and analysis are not satisfactory for the task, but you:

  • know what data you want
  • roughly know where to find it
  • have a hypothesis you’d like to test

I expect there are slews of Data Scientists who’d be interested in assisting with this sort of work—I personally think this is more interesting and valuable than something like Kaggle, but I digress.

What’s missing

Well, certainly some way of connecting people would be useful. Could be a simple webpage where people build profiles and post pitches. There are some more technical components of this matching that would need to be worked out.