A defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the range of news outlets conducting their own data acquisition, aggregation, visualization, and analysis. Journalists are participants in the scientific process rather than conveyors of the results. The practice of data journalism goes back to at least the early 1970’s when journalists Philip Meyer, Donald Barlett and James Steele of the Philadelphia Inquirer accessed digitally recorded data to analyze sentencing patterns in the local Philadelphia court system. Since that time, data journalists have been active in obtaining, organizing, and analyzing public data to inform their reporting with quantitative force. These efforts may have gone largely unnoticed by scientists in the past, but have become highly visible this year and are supporting epidemiologists and data scientists working to understand the dynamics of the pandemic. In this forum, we will examine the contributions of data journalism to informing our understanding and combat the pandemic; explore how journalists’ contributions may be shaping the scientific response and public policy; and hear from data scientists’ experience in utilizing these sources.
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging science and society to an unprecedented degree. Human lives and the future of our society are at stake. Containing the virus and “flattening the curve” of the pandemic depend on mounting a strong, coordinated, scientifically informed public health response which will, in turn, ultimately depend on having complete and accurate data from multiple data sources.
The COVID-19 Data Forum: is an ongoing series of multidisciplinary, webinars and online meetings for topic experts to discuss data-related aspects of the scientific response to the pandemic. The COVID-19 Data Forum is a joint project of the R Consortium and the Stanford Data Science Institute. The webinars are free and open to the public.Learn More