Heads up for the first data journalism agency in Macedonia!

Developer Baze Petrushev showed participants how to use the Normal Distribution to find stories in data

Developer Baze Petrushev showed participants how to use the Normal Distribution to find stories in data (Dona Dzambaska – CC-by-sa 3.0)

Data journalism in Macedonia just got a lot stronger: a group of journalists and programmers started what could become the first data-journalism agency in the country. The group was part of the two-day workshop organised by folks at School of Data Macedonia, from member organisation Metamorphosis Foundation, as part of the ongoing support the British Embassy is providing in the region.

Journalists, programmers and data enthusiasts got together in Skopje to talk about data journalism in Macedonia (Dona Dzambaska - CC-by-sa 3.0)

Journalists, programmers and data enthusiasts got together in Skopje to talk about data journalism in Macedonia (Dona Dzambaska – CC-by-sa 3.0)

The rainy weekend (November 28th & 29th) didn’t stop 17 journalists from getting together to learn the basics of the Data Pipeline: getting, cleaning, validating, analysing and presenting data for different audiences. The workshop included groups activities and hands-on sessions with tools such as OpenRefine, for data cleaning, Google Sheets, for analysis and IFTTT for scraping. Goran Rizaov, 2015 School of Data Fellow in Macedonia was one of the trainers and organisers of the training experience. We also had the support from senior fellow (2014) Dona Dzambaska, who took amazing pictures and gave general help during the sessions.

Participants went through groups sessions and hands-on training about a variety of tools that are useful for working with data in journalism (Dona Dzambaska - CC-by-sa 3.0)

Participants went through groups sessions and hands-on training about a variety of tools that are useful for working with data in journalism (Dona Dzambaska – CC-by-sa 3.0)

Even with such a short time together, participants formed three groups and came up with prototypes of projects with great potential for the region. One of them will monitor the sporting habits of Macedonians on Twitter. “Our idea is to use hashtags and the social media API to analyse many variables, such as time of the day, the weather, which activity people are doing at the moment of the tweet, their mood, age, gender etc”, said journo-coder Bozidar Hristov, one of the members of the group.

Another group wanted to take a look at the data about the turnout in Macedonian elections, using data analysis to draw conclusions about all of the regions in the country. “We’re wondering if the turnout rate has anything to do with the geographical location”, said the developer and data-wrangler Baze Petrushev.

The group will pursue the project of setting up the first data-journalism agency in Macedonia (Dona Dzambaska - CC-by-sa 3.0)

The group will pursue the project of setting up the first data-journalism agency in Macedonia (Dona Dzambaska – CC-by-sa 3.0)

Adriana Mijuskovic and Ivana Kostovska want to start a data journalism agency in Skopje to help newsrooms publish data-driven stories. “We also want to create opportunities for journalists and programmers to work together in projects with macedonian data, also in cooperation with other networks in the Balkans”, said Adriana. The project was welcomed by the whole group and they will meet again in the coming weeks to plan next steps.

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