Measuring the Unmeasured with Data

  • Nicolas Kayser-Bril


Datajournalism is the act of measuring the unmeasured. Using examples of investigations by Journalism ++ measuring refugee casualties (Migrants Files), rent prices (Rentswatch) and subsidies to professional football (The Football Tax) this essay will explore the implications of setting up such databases, both theoretical and practical. It will then assess the relationships such measurement initiatives develop with stakeholders in the European news ecosystem.


  1. Adams, R. (2016, December 7). Locked on the Psych Ward. BuzzFeed.
  2. Amico, L. (2014, December 29). Website That Kept Watch on D.C. Homicides Shuts Down. PBS.
  3. Bengoa, A. (2015, July 7). La Concesión De Indultos Cae Un 84% Pese a Que Crecen Las Peticiones. El Pais.
  4. Bilton, R. (2016, October 7). ProPublica’s Data Store, Which Has Pulled in $200K, Is Now Selling Datasets for Other News Orgs. Nieman Lab.
  5. Blickle, P., Biermann, K., Faigle, P., Geisler, A., Hamann, G., Jacobsen, L., … Venohr, S. (2015, December 3). Es brennt in Deutschland. Zeit Online.
  6. Bly, N. (1887a). Ten Days in a Mad-House. New York: N.L. Munro. Retrieved from
  7. Bly, N. (1887b, October 17). Untruth in Every Line, Nellie Bly Contradicts a Recent Article in the Sun. New York World. Retrieved from
  8. Ewald, D. (2011, March 23). Open Dialogue. Safecast.
  9. Hindustan Times. (2017). About the Hate Tracker.
  10. Iraq Body Count. (n.d.). The Human Cost of War Must Be Recorded.
  11. Kanya, E., & Siebenhofer, A. (2015, August 26). Gefühlte Kriminalität. Correctiv.
  12. Kayser-Bril, N. (2016, April 13). ‘Free Your Data’ Is Over. Now, We Need Data To Be Free [Blog post].
  13. Kayser-Bril, N. (2017, April 10). The Collapse of Academia [Blog post].
  14. La Nacíon. (2017, March 17). Tracking the Monetary Base in Pesos 2003–2017, and How This Speaks About Inflation [Blog post].
  15. Marshall, S. (2012, October 25). How Argentina’s La Nacion Is Opening Data Without FOI.
  16. McNeill, R., Nelson, D. J., & Abutaleb, Y. (2016, September 7). The Uncounted: The Deadly Epidemic America Is Ignoring. Reuters.
  17. Morel, E. D., & Johnston, H. H. (1907). Red Rubber: The Story of the Rubber Slave Trade Which Flourished on the Congo in the Year of Grace 1907. London: Fisher Unwin.Google Scholar
  18. Ornstein, C. (2016, June 20). Feed Me, Pharma: More Evidence That Industry Meals Are Linked to Costlier Prescribing. ProPublica.
  19. Ornstein, C., Grochowski Jones, R., & Tigas, M. (2016, March 17). Now There’s Proof: Docs Who Get Company Cash Tend to Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds. ProPublica.
  20. Pierce, O., & Allen, M. (2015). Assessing Surgeon-Level Risk of Patient Harm During Elective Surgery for Public Reporting. ProPublica.
  21. Purkiss, J. (2017, May 25). US Military Operations Against Taliban Dramatically Escalate. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
  22. Stöckel, C., Sona, Z., & Bednarczyk, S. (2017, January 2). Es brennt in Deutschland. taz.!5367296/.
  23. Supiot, A. (2015). La gouvernance par les nombres. Paris: Fayard.Google Scholar
  24. Swaine, J., & McCarthy, C. (2016, December 15). Killings by US Police Logged at Twice the Previous Rate Under New Federal Program. The Guardian.
  25. Tal, A., & Wansink, B. (2016). Blinded with Science: Trivial Graphs and Formulas Increase Ad Persuasiveness and Belief in Product Efficacy. Public Understanding of Science, 25(1), 117–125. Scholar
  26. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2012, January 31). Mediterranean Takes Record as Most Deadly Stretch of Water for Refugees and Migrants in 2011. UNHCR.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Kayser-Bril
    • 1
  1. 1.BerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations