Pew Center to Launch Data Blog

February 4, 2013 by

The Pew Research Center is launching a data blog. The nonpartisan think tank is currently recruiting a senior writer to lead this new project which will produce editorial content based on the data Pew produces, president Alan Murray said.

In the job description advertising the role, the project is described as “the organization’s first data-centric blog covering a range of topics, from politics and economic policy to digital habits to demographic shifts.” Pew, which collects a range of research data and opinion polls across its seven subject areas – People and the Press, Excellence in Journalism, Internet and American Life, Religion and Public Life, Hispanic research, Global Attitudes and Social and Demographic Trends – wants to start doing more of its own findings from its data. “We put data out for people to use, but we don’t want to be solely reliant on other people’s insights,” Murray said, “The blog will be a platform for doing that.”

Pew see this blog – which will launch once the vacancy is filled – as the natural progression of the work they’ve been doing to date. Murray said the project is an effort to step up the Center’s digital dissemination of their work. “We’re moving from a wholesale to retail model,” Murray said,  who wants to find new ways for the Center’s in-house analytical expertise to directly reach their audience.

Murray, who joined as the Center’s president in January from the Wall Street Journal, said one of the first things he did when he took post was to ask his staff what they’d like to see in place and the data blog was top of the list. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press ran a similar, internal project a few months ago which was populated with content from its team. Murray said it was an example of some “great work” by Pew staff and that he hopes to repeat the exercise with this publicly-facing blog.

Murray believes Pew is in an unique position to utilise its experts in the fields of journalism and social science to scrutinize the research work it carries out. “There’s an alchemy between social scientists and journalists,” Murray said, “the journalists keep the social scientists from wandering in the weeds and the social scientists keep the journalists serious.”

Murray said that in time the project might expand to also include data visualizations and infographics. Murray also said that the blog will not be taking guest contributions “right off the bat,” but that it is something they will consider over time. Murray emphasized that the blog will be a platform for the Pew Center to share their insight into the data the institution collects. “We have a lot of very interesting data and we can do a lot more with it than we are,” he said.

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