Category: Writing

Conversations with two generations of data journalists at the Los Angeles Times


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Over the entrance to the Los Angeles Times headquarters hangs a banner with the newspaper’s promise to the world: REAL JOURNALISM, REAL IMPACT. When I visited in April 2018, the paper was still quietly situated in its historic downtown Los Angeles headquarters, right next to the City Hall and the Grand Park. Three months later, the paper moved out of its historic downtown building to a facility near Los Angeles International Airport, bringing itself closer to the rest of the nation in the latest episode in a series of ownership changes that have been going on for decades. I went there in search of a pair of data journalists, Doug Smith and Ben Welsh, who relayed to me a remarkable story of the evolution of data journalism in recent decades.

Read from The Data & News Society


Book Review: Reporting in the MENA Region/Cyber Engagement and Pan-Arab Social Media


Citation: Du, Y. R. (2017, September 1). [Review of the book Reporting in the MENA Region: Cyber Engagement and Pan-Arab Social Media, by M. Ayish & N. Mellor]. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(3), 923-924.

The Arab Uprisings, or so called “Arab Spring,” which swept across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the past several years, is regarded as one of the most significant events of the new millennium. Social media is said to have played an unprecedented role in the revolutionary waves within the Arab world and has gained considerable academic attention worldwide. However, there has been little discussion from a professional journalistic perspective. To date, very few contributions were published regarding the role of social media in pan-Arab newsrooms. Situated in the years surrounding the Arab Uprisings, Mohammad Ayish and Noha Mellor’s Reporting in the MENA Region: Cyber Engagement and Pan-Arab Social Media has filled this gap. Continue reading

Book Review: Data Journalism, Mapping the Future


Citation: Du, Y. R. (2014, August 18). [Review of the book Data journalism: Mapping the future, by J. Mair & R. L. Keeble (eds)]. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(3), 599-600.


With vast amounts of data now openly accessible online, and the new infographic technologies available to visualize data, news media are increasingly making use of these valuable mines of data to source and produce their stories. Data journalism – the use of numerical data in the production and distribution of news – is an emerging subarea in our field but so far little has been written about it. Scholarly narratives on data journalism are still rare, not to mention published books devoted to this subject. The January 2014 release of Data Journalism: Mapping the future is a welcome addition to this nascent body of literature, after the seminal Data Journalism Handbook (2012). Continue reading

The Time Capsule – Letter to My Son

My dear Ben Ben,

I wrote this letter for you, at the beginning of your 5th grade. By the time you open this time capsule, another busy school year will have come to closure and you will be a year older. Perhaps you will have no time to read my letter as you will then have many of your own priorities, such as getting ready for another super exciting summer excursion.

Time flies. It is hard to believe that the 7 lbs baby is now a 5th grader, a Taekwondo Black Belter, playing classical music, and talking about many things that I have never heard of, especially when it comes to science and social studies. Along the way, you have made me so happy and proud.

The year of 5th grade will pass by quickly, before you realize it. I hope you will be happy, healthy, and productive as always. I hope you will be enjoying every day. You will be learning many new things from the school projects. You will make new friends. You will start to play violin, along with piano.

Life is uncertain – no one knows what is going to happen for sure. But one thing I am always sure of – no matter what grade you are in and how old you are, you are always my adorable baby, my darling. Life will make you too busy to cherish your present time, but some day you will be old enough to start missing your childhood. You may then want to find back this letter, but no one can guarantee its forever existence. It will probably be nowhere to trace, but I shall still be your affectionate mother.



Data News in the Pulitzers

(This is a repost from Comunicar – Media Education Research Journal. Find the original here

The Pulitzers are now in their centennial year. A hundred years is a long way to go. Along the way, there are milestones that are remembered. One in 2012, marked by Huffington Post. Its military correspondent David Wood won in the National Reporting category with his 10-part series “Beyond the Battlefields”. That milestone celebrates the first win for the then seven-year-old Huffington Post and evidences the Pulitzer committee’s recognition of online-only news. As the president and editor-in-chief of the “paper” Arianna Huffington commented, it was an affirmation that great journalism could thrive on the Web. Continue reading


我的亲属圈里上过大学的人中,只有我一个是学文科的。其他人呢,有理有工。在他们看来,不行的才去学文科。我姐是学机械工程的,最瞧不起我的是她。大学刚毕业时,我俩曾经挤在单位宿舍一间房里的上下铺凑合着过了好些日子。我当个小记者经常要在外面灰头土脸地瞎跑,就把洗衣服买菜做饭洗碗交水电费取钱存钱(那时候没有电子银行这回事,离互联网在中国开用还有好些年头呢)凡此总总琐事都甩给她。谁让她是我姐呢。当然啦,宿舍哪儿厕所堵了,灯泡烧了,门垮了,煤气炉打不着火了,这种事我是真没有办法的,只能是她去解决,谁让她是工科生呢。有一回我在外面被偷了钱包(这种事在当时的广州是家常便饭),因为钥匙在钱包里面所以也跟着没了,我俩惶惶不可终日, 担心拿到钥匙的人找到线索寻来。我姐一气之下竟然用锤子加螺丝刀将铁门的那个复杂异常的双重锁(那时最流行的,治安多不好啊)下了下来,换上一个新的。怪不得人家说学工科的女生可以当男的使。 Continue reading