Ideas, data and code for Build the News

This year’s Build the News event is going back to basics. We’re stripping back the shiny gadgets and putting the focus on ‘the story’ in the hope that teams build and use technology only to advance their storytelling, rather than the other way around. This gives teams a unique opportunity to think about the digitisation around a topic and use data as the source of their stories.

Great data journalism stories aren’t those that use data simply to add to or visualise a point but use it for story finding itself. The data team at The Times and Sunday Times are trying to make this kind of data journalism, journalism itself and want you to take on this ethos at Build the News.

Here’s our challenge: tell a story you couldn’t have found without computing, write a script for handling and crunching data you look at manually every month, build a tool that speeds up a process, tackle newly opened data sets or investigate the data for an upcoming event.

Short of ideas? Here is what we are thinking about:

Clinical Commissioning Group and GP interests data

Earlier this year we revealed GPs awarded £2.4bn in deals to their own companies. Have a look at what we did (and the data we’ve released) to get ideas on how to combine data sets and dig for stories. You can also take our story on by getting the latest data or investigating on a local level.

Elections, elections, elections

Ahead of the General Election in 2015, our team looked at party allegiance and voter profiles. We rejected the flawed polling data ahead of May and used demographic data and election results to explain the election in a way no one else attempted to. We released our methodology and code and would love to see students at Build the News take our work further or propose other innovative takes on the upcoming 2016 elections. Here are the ones to look at:

EU referendum

From constituency demographics and intention, to historical shifts on Brexit, to cost and benefit measurements for specific industries, we are hoping to see teams take on the data surrounding this issue.

London Mayoral elections

How have London voters in the mayoral changed overtime? Is it about securing outer London? Inner? What analysis can be done about the candidates themselves? Look at a candidate’s history and see how they align with party manifestos or their written answers in Parliament. This could be an interesting text analysis exercise or a numerical one if you look at voting records.

Scottish Parliament

Are you a student from Scotland? You have Scottish parliamentary elections coming up in May. These elections will be of interest nationally, with particular interest in seeing if the SNP do as well as they did in 2015. Take a look at the data available, past and present, think about data sets you can merge and the trend analysis you can pull out of the data. There is a lot to tell in terms of turnout and voter profiles too. How will Scottish voters respond post referendum?

Here are some other elections coming up:

  • Northern Ireland Assembly
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • London Assembly
  • English local government
  • Police and Crime Commissioner (England and Wales)

Regardless of your focus, tell unique stories, ones robust in data and rooted in systematic techniques. Take our event on a literal level and build the news.

Get in touch if you have ideas or questions,