Conference 2018 session: What is 'data journalism'?

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Clara Guibourg

'Data journalism' might seem to be a new and exciting offshoot of regular journalism, but a panel of data journalists were at RSS Conference on Tuesday afternoon to dispel that notion. 'Data journalism' is just journalism, they said – and storytelling remains king.

Claire Miller, of press group Reach, made the point that journalists have always used data in their work, whether reporting on crime statistics or budget statements. What has changed is the opportunities afforded by digital platforms to create more interesting, engaging presentations of data.

Conference 2018: Building statistical capacity and filling data gaps

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The breadth of the data required to measure the SDGs has tested even the most advanced statistical systems and this session looked at how governments and organisations are coming up with a variety of ways to fill the gaps.

Deirdre Appel from Open Data Watch (who also spoke at the conference’s session on gender data gaps) talked about building statistical literacy as well as capacity through the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With 232 indicators requiring data and some countries not even having a regular census or death registration statistics, there is a clear gap in capacity. Building partnerships between private and public sector/government is the aim, Deirdre said, but this will take resources and funding to achieve.

More ‘Hands-on’ materials to inspire students with statistics

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The RSS has launched four new activities designed to engage with students and young people at careers fairs, at festivals and in schools. The new ‘Hands-on’ resources consist of short, practical activities for face-to-face interactions, which can be extended for use in school workshops.

The ‘Hands-on’ activities, available to download at, were launched at the RSS Conference 2018, a year after the first four were launched at the 2017 Conference.

Stats community honours Andreas Georgiou

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The RSS is one of six international statistics organisations to present Andreas Georgiou with a special commendation recognising his work at the Greek statistical authority Elstat.

The commendation was given to the former Elstat president ‘for his competency and strength in the face of adversity, his commitment to the production of quality and trustworthiness of official statistics and his advocacy for the improvement, integrity and independence of official statistics’. It was presented to Georgiou personally at a meeting just prior to the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) Conference in Paris earlier this month.

RSS helps define new poverty measure

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The RSS has helped the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) formulate a new poverty metric (PDF) which takes into account factors such as assets and 'inescapable costs' that can affect people's spending power. The new data shows who is poor now and how that has changed over time, to provide a clear focus for policy makers.

The SMC, an independent non-partisan commission founded in 2016 by Baroness Stroud, brought together poverty specialists with data/analytical experts to develop a new approach to measuring poverty. RSS executive director, Hetan Shah, was one of the commissioners along with representatives from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Conference 2018: How do we measure the ‘sharing economy’?

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Pauline Beck

You might have read about the 'sharing economy', but what is it exactly? That’s a question the statisticians at the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been wrestling with.

Speaking at RSS Conference on Wednesday afternoon, Pauline Beck gave an overview of the work ONS has done to date, all of which stemmed from a recommendation in the Bean Review of economic statistics, calling for more data on this relatively new part of the UK economy.

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