Pınar Dağ | Open Data in Europe and Central Asia

I am the co-founder of the first Data Driven Media Organisation, Dağ Medya. This organisation is based in Turkey and is also the first Data Driven Journalism Training Portal.
Co-founder of the first Data Driven Media Organisation, Dağ Medya
Co-founder of the first Data Driven Media Organisation, Dağ Medya

1. Why did you start working with data?

Four years ago I was doing some research for a report and found myself with a bunch of raw data. I wanted to make use of it for journalistic purposes, however I wasn’t sure how. By chance, it was around the same time I had won a place on a Google-funded data journalism workshop. Attending this camp helped me understand more effectively both data and data journalism. It also inspired me to import this knowledge, localizing it for Turkish media and in my own digital outlet.

Data helps to make reports more transparent and also helps create trust between you and readers amid the media ‘misinformation’ that we suffer from today.

For me, being a data-driven journalist means being able to use data literacy to become a better journalist, researcher, and instructor.


2. Tell us of one work accomplishment that you are particularly proud of.

There is an ongoing project titled, “Open Database of Deceased Workers in Turkey“, which is on the Data Journalism Awards 2015 finalist list right now. We spent almost six months on the project last year and wrote many features around it, enabling journalists to have access to actual open data on daily basis. I am really proud of my team and how well they worked on the project.

We began building this database shortly after the tragic mining accident in Soma. It was proving extremely difficult to document the working conditions of employees involved in the disaster. There were discrepancies with the number of unionized workers, and an inability to provide sufficiently transparent data to account for the deaths of workers over previous decades. What was available was disorganized and lacking in details.

Our open data project includes embeddable maps, graphs, and data in different formats that were prepared in a manner to allow open public access– collecting and collating the deaths of workers in over 20 sectors that occurred between 2011-2014.


3. What is the next thing for data-driven journalism in Turkey?

The next steps for data driven journalism in Turkey depend on several things.

Firstly Turkey’s media needs to create some data centres. For example, with the exception of my organization, which is a relatively small newsroom, there is no access in Turkey for any other data blog.

Media owners, editors, and reporters need to follow this new trend because global digital media is changing every day. Media organizations need to give regular data journalism training and must include different professional skills into their newsrooms.

Open data tools are in the rise but not really from Turkish developers or available in Turkish. We need some local coders to make these data tools in Turkish, and make them for minimal cost or even free so that these tools become accessible and easy to use.

Open data culture should be developed in Turkey for Data Driven Journalism, and the government ministries need to start opening their databases for public use and ease of access to mirror other countries.

Classic journalism is still important but we must follow and import this new discipline of journalism into our newsrooms to build stronger and more transparent news storytelling for the readers.

This will make governments work harder and make it difficult to hide the truth from the public, all by using data-driven journalism.