Our Interview with LocalFocus
LocalFocus is an intuitive data management and visualisation platform that helps journalists collaborate on data-driven stories. Editors can use our platform to quickly share, visualize and publish interesting datasets across the newsroom and beyond. The maps and charts generated with our platform can be used to enrich articles for both online and print.
An example of how the LocalFocus-platform is used in the Netherlands, is our data-driven news service. Every day, we search for current and relevant data for regional journalists. We collect data both automatically - through the use of API’s - and manually - with the help of FOIA requests - on everything from election results, to crime statistics, to what people have to spend on dog taxes. We analyze the collected data, and share our insights with different reporters through the platform.
The LocalFocus team.
What problem are you solving?
A lot of new organizations have a hard time incorporating data-driven journalism into their workflow. The biggest hurdle for especially a lot of the smaller newsrooms is, of course, time and money. Many journalists see the potential of data journalism but cannot find the time to learn the necessary technical skills and do not have the funds to employ an expert to do it for them.
Describe your solution to the problem above.
What we try to show with LocalFocus is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to incorporate data-based reporting into the everyday workflow. On a daily basis, we offer journalists interesting data in an easy-to-use format through the LocalFocus-platform. By using the platform, they can easily enrich articles with data and visualizations instead of only interviews and anecdotes. For us it’s also really interesting to see how one data-driven investigation can lead to many different stories. In that sense, we’re just as dependent on the journalists we work with as the other way around because we could never have told all these stories by ourselves.
List three reasons why you are better than your competitors.
- We provide newsrooms with both the tools AND the data. This makes it easier to start publishing data-driven stories and to see the potential.
- Our tool makes it possible to go from a spreadsheet to an interactive visualization within minutes. The graphs and maps have the look and feel of the clients' branding and work on all screens and devices.
- We provide one workflow for both print and online visualisations. This helps collaboration across the newsroom between people with different skills. The visualisations generated with our platform can easily be used by developers for bigger projects with our widget API.
How does your company make money?
We basically work like a press agency. News organizations pay a monthly fee for our services. They then have access to our tools and to the data we've collected. We also make money by customizing our tool to the particular needs of organizations.
What are your next steps? Future developments or features to be added to your product?
We're working hard on expanding our mapping capabilities by adding maps for different regions in the world. Since most news organizations in the Netherlands are already making use of our service, we want to expand abroad.