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Local news organizations in Germany and data journalism

Patricia Cruz



The article “Local Data Journalism in Germany: Data-driven Reporting Amidst Local Communities and Authorities” by Florian Stalph from LMU Munich and Oliver Hahn and David Liewehr from University of Passau explored data journalism within local and regional news organizations in Germany.

Data journalism is often associated with large organizations such as ProPublica or with major, national and international newsrooms like The Guardian. However, early data journalism was often of local characteristic and the benefits of data journalism in local reporting are clear. 

The economic struggles such as lack of staffing have particularly reduced local newsrooms’ ability to utilize data journalism. Despite this, several German local news organizations have managed to conduct data journalism. Data journalism, in other words, has become at least somewhat democratized. 

The authors caution that the study is not meant to be representative of all regional data journalism and its status quo in Germany, but more in the vein of anecdotal collection of case studies. 

Local journalism differs from journalism at large, among other things, in expectations. While journalism in general is expected to serve a public watchdog -purpose, holding those in power accountable, in local journalism this role comes second. 

The primary role of local journalism is to act as a “good neighbor”, relaying news of local interest to its readers. This has led some scholars to even accuse local journalism of sycophantic coverage, as the journalists are often embedded and tied in with the elites. 

Data journalism is hard to define in a clear-cut manner. It consists of gathering and organizing data in support of journalism. Explaining and conveying complex facts are central to the work of a data journalist.

The study here consisted of nine semi-structured in-depth interviews, where the interviewees were data journalists working for regional and local newspapers in Germany. Eight were men, one was a woman. The circulation of the newspapers they worked on ranged from a bit over 80.000 to slightly under 300.000. 

The first research question was on the challenges the journalists face when obtaining data from governmental sources. The participants were, by and large, satisfied with the services available to them on national and regional level, some defining it as a “treasure trove”. However, on the municipal level the services were insufficient, particularly when it comes to geographic data. 

Despite the insufficient data, the journalists rarely used FOI (Freedom of Information) requests to attain data. They were described as creating friction with the authorities and there were thus misgivings about it, but it was nevertheless occasionally used. 

Typically, the journalists sought instead to maintain good relations with the authorities and then having the data they could get with a FOI without having to formally file the request. 

The second research question was about the structure of the work. Most participants felt only partially integrated to the editorial practices of the newsroom, data journalistic projects were instead managed by few lone journalists. Some of the journalists did not exclusively work as data journalists but had breaks lasting weeks from that work. 

The data journalists mostly relied on existing tools such as Excel, Datawrapper and Carto to conduct their analysis, as there was no time for development of in-house tools. The training in data journalism mostly relied on initiative. All in all, the major obstacle for all data work was lack of time, as it is time-consuming.

The third research question was on how the journalists utilized data to make local news stories. There were two main approaches: the first was to have a topic already at the ready and to search data for it, the second was to utilize pre-existing data. They sought to tie in the stories to local context by default in their work. 

Many of the interviewees viewed pure data as too abstract, and thus sought to have individuals in the stories for the readers to empathize with. The personal conversations also were needed to verify the data and provide a reality check. 

The last, fourth research question was on how the participants perceived their role in the context of local journalism. The answers displayed a diversity in goals and motivations. One emphasized the service function of data journalism via interactive maps, two considered data important as evidence. 

Information and explanation were considered important, as was the telling of reader oriented human stories. Data stories could improve the readers statistical understanding  and raise awareness on the shortcomings of the quantitative method. “Empowering journalism”, where readers would analyze the data and form political responses by it, were emphasized by some. 

The data journalists did not feel a duty to present their region only in positive terms. Only one reported that self-censoring on basis of expected reader response occurred by some colleagues, but not by the interviewee in question. Being rooted in region only influenced the choice of topics, but had no bearing otherwise. 

The study emphasizes that not only do local and regional newsrooms need to recognize the potential of data journalism, but also the regional and national data providers -as they were central in the success of data journalism. Stories were often personalized by local protagonists. The authors caution that the sample size is too small to draw wide conclusions, but the study nevertheless offers interesting insights.

The article “Local Data Journalism in Germany: Data-driven Reporting Amidst Local Communities and Authorities” by Florian Stalph, Oliver Hahn and David Liewehr is in Journalism Practice. (open access). 

Picture: Untitled by Erik Mclean.

License Unsplash. 

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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