Data Generations Coming!


BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA. August 23, 2012. Journalism students in Bosnia and Herzegovina worked on their first data projects, during the 'Digital Generations Camp' organized by the IPI News Innovation Contest winner 2012 Mediacenter Sarajevo, in cooperation with European Journalism Center.

All of them are studying journalism, but this is the first time that they got in touch with 'data journalism': ''In all three years of studies, and even during my work on some web portals,  we never even heard about this technique, not much used it in my work. Until now, I had very traditional approach toward data search and their visualization, but now I see that it can look much more interesting and appealing for the audience,'' says Emina Beklija, third-year student of journalism from Sarajevo. For her and her colleague Melina Borcak, the main motive to apply to the camp was the opportunity to learn something that was never part of their professional experience. ''I like the dynamics that you can achieve when you know how to use all open sources and tools. It is really a challenge to present data that are usually boring in a way that can satisfy the readers and contribute to the portals' interactivity'', says Melina.  

Digital Generations Camp. Photo courtesy, Mediacenter Sarajevo.

The first camp's leading trainer, Friedrich Lindenberg, from Open Knowledge Foundation, said that the biggest challenge for development of data journalism is to persuade the journalists to use its techniques in their work. Same goes for Bosnia and Herzegovina: ''It is a long term process, but you have the capacities. We have to understand that no one has the monopoly over the information, and they have to be accessible to everyone. Although it is hard to get some information in BH, especially the ones related to government institutions and transparency, this has to be changed, and data journalism can help in that process,'' says Friedrich. '' We live in the age when anyone who has internet access can look for any kind of information. Data journalists are here to make this process of data searching and interpretation easier, and nobody, especially the governments can stop this!''

Digital Generations Camp. Photo courtesy: Mediacenter Sarajevo.

Vesna Andree Zaimovic, editor of the web portal and assistant trainer at the camp agrees, and adds: ''Media can take active part in democratic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina only if the journalists know how to get the right information and present it in a way that will engage the audience, and stimulate them to think about the problems we're facing with, '' says Vesna, who's media already started to apply info graphics in their content, related to sports, economics, weather conditions...  ''It helps us to present valuable, in any other case very hardly understood data in a new, interactive manner.''

For Mediacenter, this is – hopefully – only the beginning of educational programs on this topic. ''For us, at this point, it is important that these young professionals are acquainted with trends and new technologies in their profession. They already know how to produce data stories, publish them, and I hope that the media managers and editors will also see the value of using data journalism in their work,'' says Slobodanka Dekic, project coordinator in Mediacenter.

As part of the program, media professionals and students also gained online resource center, containing texts, author's articles, publications related to data journalism, translated on local languages. These will all be published on MC Online, and By the end of the project, two more students' camps will be organized – with more data coming!

Mladen Lakić, Aleksandra Tolj and Anamarija Jelonjić
Students of Journalism from Pale and Mostar, participants at the 1st 'Digital Generations' camp