Links: What is linked data and why does it matter to journalists and publishers?

Following the success of previous panel discussions about data journalism at news:rewired events, we wanted to focus on the potential of linked data for news and media organisations this time around. Martin Belam and Simon Rogers from the Guardian, Silver Oliver from the BBC and Martin Moore from the Media Standards Trust will discuss the topic.

You’ll find some useful websites, blog posts and tools listed below. But to kick us off – what exactly is “linked data”?

According to the appropriately name, Linked data is “about using the web to connect related data that wasn’t previously linked, or using the web to lower the barriers to linking data currently linked using other methods”.

From our speaker Martin Belam, information architect at the Guardian:

I think that one of the most important things to understand about a ‘Linked Data’ future for news is that this is about building a platform for a range of products and services. When we think of the ‘open’ web, it is easy for the net-heads and neophiles amongst us to assume that this has to mean free as in free beer, as well as free as in free speech.

It doesn’t.

News organisations need digital tools in three spheres – in the commissioning and production of content, in the B2B sphere that so many of us are also active in, and in producing B2C ‘news’ for our audiences. ‘Open’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘open’ to all of the public, it could mean ‘open’ within the industry, or ‘open’ with specific partners.

Useful blog posts

  • Speaker Martin Belam’s posts on his blog that cover linked data can be found at this link.
  • Particularly worth reading are his thoughts on:
  1. Linked data and its role in ‘journalism-centred design’ –;
  2. The impact of a lack of interoperable publishing technology for media organisations: –
  3. What is the value of linked data to the news industry?;
  4. A history of linked data at the BBC

Tools, tips and examples

Issues to discuss

  • How can linked data aid the redistribution of content?
  • How can linked data change editorial workflows and content management?
  • How can it be used by journalists as a research tool and to find stories?
  • How can the news industry and media organisation’s prepare and adapt for increased availability of data?
  • Can linked data make your website more accessible?

Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch.

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