Training Enhances Balkan Journalists’ Skills in Data Analysis and Visualization

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Journalists from six Western Balkan countries participated in a specialized training session on Data Analysis and Visualization led by regional and international professionals.

Photo: Screenshot / BIRN

On June 10 and 11, 23 journalists attended an online training on Data Analysis and Visualization, part of the Western Balkans Media for Change project’s learning circle.

Representing media outlets from six countries – Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo – the journalists acquired skills essential for contemporary newsrooms.

Data analysis is a cornerstone of investigative journalism, enabling journalists to uncover hidden stories. In today’s media landscape, data visualization is equally critical.

The online training was led by Jonathan Stoneman, a journalist and trainer with extensive experience at the BBC, where he served as a researcher, producer and director for the Macedonian and Croatian language services. Following his tenure with the BBC World Service in Zagreb, Stoneman dedicated his expertise to training journalists, with a focus on data analysis.

“Think about your data like interviewing a person,” Stoneman advised the trainees. “If you think of data as a source, you ask it questions.”

The first day concentrated on data analysis techniques, including filtering, sorting, summarizing, and refining data, using accessible tools like OpenRefine. The second day shifted focus to data visualization and producing stories from data using different angles and types of information display. Participants were introduced to various user-friendly tools suitable for any newsroom.

In addition to the primary trainer, investigative journalists from BIRN Serbia and BIRN Macedonia presented case studies. Goce Trpkovski and Miodrag Marković showcased how utilizing tools can facilitate in-depth exploration and presentation of investigative topics in the region. Complementing the training, Fokus from Sarajevo demonstrated their own example of effective data visualization.

The training underscored the importance of incorporating diverse communities and gender-sensitive data into analyses. This learning circle is part of a broader editorial and mentoring support initiative for journalists and media outlets. The project also provides financial assistance to enhance operational capacity, business sustainability, and innovation potential. Its goal is to equip media professionals with the skills needed to produce high-quality, diverse, fact-checked, and gender-sensitive content that engages wider audiences.

The Western Balkans Media for Change project is funded by the UK government and implemented by the British Council in partnership with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Thomson Foundation and The International NGO Training and Research Centre, INTRAC.

It supports the work of media outlets and individual journalists from the Western Balkan countries.