Newsquest opens Data Investigations Unit

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Newsquest

Newsquest has launched a Data Investigations Unit staffed by two full-time reporters who have completed a 12-week BBC Shared Data Unit placement.

The training programme, attended by Joanna Morris and Vicky Gayle, was part of the Local News Partnership with the BBC.

The Unit officially launched by editorial director Toby Granville with a training day attended by 10 reporters from around Newsquest on May 16 at its London HQ. The aim is now to provide Editors with a dedicated potential splash each week generated by the team.

Gayle, previously a reporter at the Daily Gazette in Essex, said: “In a very short time I've become part of the wider data journalism industry, which is far more collaborative and creative than many journalists would realise.

“Now I feel I have a real opportunity to push boundaries by working with professionals in other fields, and investigate topics I wouldn't have had an opportunity to before because of a lack of skills and time.”

Morris, who joined the unit from the Northern Echo, added: “My secondment with the BBC really underlined the importance of reporters being able to scrutinise and understand the relevance of the data that is held and published by public authorities on an almost daily basis.

“It’s a skill I believe is vital in continuing to hold authorities to account and I’m hoping that the launch of Newsquest’s unit eventually mean we’ll have people in all of our newsrooms who will have the skills and time to analyse such data and explore how it’s relevant to our readers and their communities.”

The duo will be helped by Bev Holder in a part-time role. Ten reporters who attended the training day and will represent their regions by dedicating a day each week to work on group wide Data Investigations are: Andrew Nuttall (The Leader) Sophie-May Clarke (Lancashire Telegraph) Nathan Louis (Watford Observer) Conor Shields (News Shopper) Rachel Conner-Hill (Northern Echo) George Thompson (Western Telegraph) Alexander Seabrook (Reading Chronicle) Niall Christie (Evening Times) Marco Ferrari (Falmouth Packet) Federica Bedendo (Times & Star).