Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Indicators and Journalists

We've been talking about how to use information to tell community stories more effectively. One key aspect is engaging the media so that they can use your community indicators reports in shaping community understanding of the issues and promoting accountability for action. (You did read this post, didn't you? I'll link to it again to give you no excuse not to click through and see it.)

Swivel's blog, Tasty Data Goodies, has a nice piece on journalists and data. I want to highlight a few sentences from their article that I think we need to pay attention to.

[N]ewspapers, magazines and blogs have increased their use of data. This has resulted in some very creative and beautiful uses of visualizations by journalists to tell their story. ... With journalists having easy access to data and analysis tools we hope to see more of this.

And as the demand from journalists increases, we are observing an increased willingness among data providers to be more creative about how they are giving access in the first place. This is a good trend where both sides benefit. Journalists are able to give compelling evidence and data providers see their data used more broadly, potentially impacting more people.

Working with the media as a trusted source for both data and key stories they should be reporting on is, I think, a critical responsibility of community indicators practitioners. Data need to be seen and heard. Data need to change people's minds and government's policies. The media needs to be our partner in making that happen.

Read this article as well. Matt Croydon says, "One thing that I’ve been seeing a lot recently in my interactions with the newsroom is that we’re no longer exchanging Excel spreadsheets, Word files, and other binary blobs via email. Instead we’re sending invites to spreadsheets and documents on Google docs, links to data visualization sites like Swivel and ManyEyes, and links to maps created with Google MyMaps."

How are you working with the media? How do you share data more effectively? How have you made the media your ally in community change?


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