Researchers and Guardian win top journalism award

Friday 1 June 2012

A project between University researchers and the Guardian newspaper has been awarded for its work on how Twitter was used during last summer’s riots.

The JISC-funded study by researchers at the Universities of St Andrews, Leicester and Manchester, involved the analysis of 2.6 million Twitter messages. The findings of the study were published by the Guardian last December as one element of its extensive Reading the Riots study.

The researchers and representative from the Guardian picked up a special Data Journalism Award at the Global Editor’s Networks’ World News summit in Paris last night (Thursday 31 May 2012).

The awards are given for exceptional use of data visualisations, including maps, to put news into context and provide insight into complex matters that are relevant to society.

The study involved the work of Dr Alex Voss of the University of St Andrews, Dr Farida Vis of the University of Leicester and Professor Rob Procter from the University of Manchester, who led the study.

Speaking after the event, Dr Voss, a Lecturer in Computer Science at St Andrews, commented, “It has been exciting to work within a multidisciplinary team of academics and the Guardian.

“The Guardian’s data journalism projects are leading in the field and there is an interesting space to explore between social sciences, computer science, statistics and quality journalism.”

The DJA is the first international competition to recognise outstanding work in the growing field of data journalism. The Global Editor’s Network initiative is supported by Google and is organised in collaboration with the European Journalism Centre.

The twitter study beat nine other nominees to win the data visualisation and storytelling category at the national and international level.

The jury, led by founder of ProPublica Paul Steiger, consisted of data journalism experts and editors from across the world.

Professor Procter, who is director of The University’s Manchester e-Research Centre, said, “We’re delighted to win this important award with the Guardian.

“The data visualisation that we developed has been a valuable tool for understanding how people use Twitter in crisis situations and, in particular, the propagation of rumour.”


Notes to Editors

The multidisciplinary team was able to exploit the rich data sources and data manipulation methods available today while drawing on the rich understanding of social phenomena provided by the social sciences. For more information visit

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