October 8, 2018
Zhao Luming specializes in data journalism at China’s Jiefang Daily and Net Ease News. He participated in USCET’s data journalism workshop at Fudan University last fall.
Q: How did you become interested in data journalism?
A: I was first introduced to data journalism when I took a journalism course at East China Normal University. I quickly became very interested in the subject, because it integrates three of my passions: technology, design, and journalism.
Q: Could you tell us about a piece you worked on that you’re proud of?
A: I’m most proud of an article I wrote in November of 2017 about the Shanghai Marathon. For this piece, I collaborated with the marathon's organizing committee to gather data about marathon events over the past five years. We analyzed the last five years of data on finishing times, top ten runners, and number of participants. We compared China’s results to those of other countries.
Because we had the opportunity to collaborate with the committee, we were able to publish the news in just a few hours after the marathon finished. Therefore, our news was timely, authoritative, and unique. However, it was challenging to look for newsworthy information from a huge pool of raw data. We decided to organize the data into tables and look for any trends.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being a data journalist?
A: The most challenging aspect for me is acquiring the skills needed to be an effective data journalist. Data journalists must be proficient in several different information technologies. The expected skill sets keep expanding. Four to five years ago, it would be enough if you knew how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, but that’s not the case anymore. Chinese audiences in particular only want stories that are new and different. They want something that gives you a brand new experience, and we have to keep expanding our skill sets to fulfill their needs. I use the internet to acquire new skills I may need in future projects.
Q: How is data journalism conducted at your news agency?
A: At Jiefang Daily, we do not have a specific data journalism column. We pick some current events in advance and then decide which topic we want to focus on. This work is mainly done individually; however, when it comes to collecting data and writing articles, we work in teams. At NetEase News, my job is to pick a topic, collect data on it, and then write an article about it. We have a professional graphic designer to do the data visualization part.