Contributor profile

Madolyn Smith

Editor European Journalism Centre


Madolyn Smith is an Editor for the European Journalism Centre's Data team, where she runs the Long Reads section on and the Conversations with Data newsletter.

In addition to data journalism, she's got a keen interest in data protection and privacy, with 2 years of experience advising government and industry on privacy compliance. Prior to this, she's worked as a Senior Content Manager for the United Nations in Bangkok, and developed policy on emerging technologies, media regulation, and algorithmic accountability for the Australian Government.

Content by Madolyn

Case studies
AMA with La Nación

Whether it’s exposing Argentina’s biggest corruption scandal, or putting a data lens to breaking reports of a missing submarine, La Nación’s Data Team doesn’t shy away from challenging stories. Momi Peralta joins us in this edition.

Data analysis Coding
AMA with Steve Doig

With over 20 years of experience teaching budding journalism students at Arizona State University, and another 20 years pioneering data work at the Miami Herald before that, Steve has plenty of lessons to share.

Data collection
Sensor-based journalism

While many of us rely on our trusty sources to analyse existing data, there’s an emerging opportunity to use sensors for the generation of new datasets on all types of physical phenomena.

Data analysis Data collection
AMA with Vincent Ryan

Formerly of the Sunday Times, Vincent now works with the Google News Initiative to help journalists find, verify, and tell news stories around the world.

Data collection Covering issues
Following the money

They say that ‘money makes the world go round’. If so, that means there’s a whole lot of stories to be found by looking into how people and organisations spend their dimes.

Case studies Data analysis
AMA with Rachel Glickhouse

ProPublica is one of the field’s leaders in data-based journalistic collaborations, and now you can learn their secrets to success.

APIs for journalism

Whether it's to power a data visualisation, or to populate a news app, we've got you covered with six ways to use APIs for journalism.

Covering issues
Data journalism in disaster zones

In emergencies, the rapid evolution of events, combined with unreliable information and data, mean that journalists run the risk of rushing reports without double-checking accuracy -- or worse, getting caught in the storm themselves.

Case studies
AMA with Code for Africa

From Cameroon to Uganda, this edition looks at the work undertaken by Code for Africa to open data up for better use by the region’s journalists.

Learn to code like a journalist

Coding has become an essential skill for newsroom journalists. Yet, despite the demand for these skills, many of us are still hesitant to get started. This edition will help you to take your first steps with code.

Case studies
AMA with Kuek Ser Kuang Keng

In this edition, we head down to Southeast Asia with Kuek Ser Kuang Keng, founder of DataN and co-organiser of Hacks/Hackers Kuala Lumpur, to find out more about the region's booming data journalism communities.

Case studies
AMA with The Economist's data team

The Economist's appetite for data journalism has been going strong since 1843. In 2015, they brought in a specialised data team and, this year, they launched a dedicated data section in print. Hear more from the team themselves.

Data visualisation
Bad charts

Data visualisation can be dangerous -- people inherently trust a map or chart. While that doesn’t mean that the truthful journalist should avoid visual storytelling, there are some common mistakes to watch out for.

Case studies
Under-reported news

If a story isn’t reported, did it even happen? Here's four ways data has helped bring invisible stories to light.

Case studies
AMA with Eva Constantaras

Eva is an investigative trainer, with teams in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kenya, and joins us in this edition to look at how data journalism is practiced around the world.

Case studies
Parsing the European Parliament elections

Come election day, voters are all asked one crucial question: Who are you going to vote for? But behind every vote, there’s plenty more. We took a look at 5 ways that data journalists parsed the 2019 European Parliament election.

Case studies
Data in the air: a guide to producing data journalism for radio

When we think of data journalism, we usually don't think of radio. Yet, data can power all forms of reporting, even those that aren’t visual. We spoke to six data experts to uncover best practices for representing data through sound.

Case studies
Data on the crime beat

While shocking crimes may carry headlines, the crime beat encompasses so much than murder mysteries and whodunnit stories. This edition explores four other angles, along with tips for using crime data throughout the entire reporting cycle.

Ethical dilemmas in data journalism

To publish or not to publish? It’s a question every data journalist will undoubtedly face at some point in their career. In this edition, we’ve collated your anecdotes and advice into seven tips to help you work through your next ethical dilemma.

Python and newsrooms: AMA with Winny de Jong

Winny de Jong, from the Dutch public broadcaster NOS, answers your questions about learning Python, hiring data journalists, and working at a broadcaster.

Data visualisation
Data visualisation trends and challenges: AMA with Data Journalism Handbook 2 authors

We spoke to our Data Journalism Handbook 2 authors about data visualisation trends and challenges for newsrooms.

Data collection Coding
Data journalism on the blockchain

When we talk about blockchain and journalism, the focus is often on trust and sustainability. But the technology also opens up a whole new world of data for journalists to explore.

Case studies
Why we love journalistic databases

Databases can be so much more than just a place to find stories. Why not make a database the story? To showcase their storytelling power, we looked at 7 of the community's favourite examples of journalistic databases.

Covering issues Ethics
Data journalism in the post-truth world: AMA with First Draft

Unfortunately for data journalists, it’s easy for our arsenal of numbers and statistics to aid various untruths. In this edition, First Draft answers your questions on tackling information disorder.

Case studies
Award-worthy data journalism

With tips from past awardees, circuit observers, and competition insiders, this edition of Conversations with Data answers the crucial question: ‘What makes data journalism award-worthy?’

Case studies
Historical data journalism

To shed light on the work of early data pioneers, we collected four of your favourite examples of data journalism from history.

Case studies
SPIEGEL ONLINE: AMA with Christina Elmer, Marcel Pauly, and Patrick Stotz

SPIEGEL ONLINE’s data team joined us to answer your questions on algorithmic accountability reporting, and the teamwork behind it.

Reproducible journalism

For this conversation, we got talking with Jeremy Singer-Vine, Stephen Stirling, Timo Grossenbacher, and more, about how to set your stories up for repeatability.

Case studies
Data Journalism Handbook 2: AMA with Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru

Following the beta release of the Data Journalism Handbook 2, we gave you the opportunity to quiz its editors, Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru, on what they have in store.

Data visualisation
Lying charts? AMA with Alberto Cairo

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then it can also speak a thousand lies. For this edition of Conversations with Data, we spoke to someone who knows all too well about the visual trumpery of charts: Alberto Cairo.

Data visualisation
Favourite maps

Just because you can map, doesn’t mean you should. To share best practices, we asked our resident geography and cartography geeks for some of their favourites.

Covering issues
The Markup: AMA with Jeff Larson

We spoke to Jeff Larson about The Markup, a newsroom dedicated to investigating the social impacts of technology.

Data scraping for stories

Data scraping is a process that allows you to extract content from a webpage using a specialised tool or by writing a piece of code. We spoke to six experts for their tips on scraping for stories.

Covering issues
Social data reporting: AMA with Lam Thuy Vo

This edition of Conversations with Data brings you an 'ask me anything' with the author of the Handbook’s social media chapter, BuzzFeed’s Lam Thuy Vo.

Covering issues
Environmental data journalism

Despite the volume of data available, reporting on the environment can be complex and challenging. To help, we asked for your advice and collated these into a roundup of five must-read tips.

Case studies
Fact-checking: AMA with Africa Check,, RMIT ABC Fact Check, Correctiv/EchtJetzt, and

Armed with data, fact-checking organisations across the globe work tirelessly to help separate these facts from fiction, and any misnomers in-between.

Case studies
Debunking with data: insights from fact-checkers around the globe

Armed with data, fact-checking organisations work tirelessly to help separate facts from fiction, and any misnomers in-between. Here's how they do it.

Data visualisation
Favourite chart types

Although the best chart type always depends on your dataset, it doesn't mean that we can't have go-tos. Here's five of the community's favourite charts.

Case studies
West Africa Leaks

Over several months, an investigation team poured over 27.5 million documents to reveal how Africa's elites hide billions offshore. Did these documents ever mislead them? How did they verify? Will Fitzgibbon and Daniela Lepiz answer your questions.

Case studies
West Africa Leaks: AMA with Will Fitzgibbon and Daniela Lepiz

Companies in West Africa make billions every year, yet most of the region’s citizens live on less than $2 a day. Why? Well, as West Africa Leaks revealed, the answer often lies in two words: tax evasion.

Case studies
World Cup data journalism

Still running high on football fever, we brought you a special edition of Conversations with data, to look back at a tournament full of inspiring data journalism.

Case studies
9 questions about the World Cup, and how data journalists answered them

The 2018 World Cup might be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the data journalism that it inspired. We collated a full roundup of data journalism that dissected, predicted, and queried the World Cup.

Data analysis Data collection
Open data

The term ‘open data’ might imply that it’s readily available, but it was clear from your submissions in this edition that accessing relevant data isn’t without its challenges.

Data visualisation
Immersive storytelling: AMA with Journalism 360 ambassadors

Journalistic uses of augmented reality, virtual reality, 360 video, and other techniques, have gained momentum over the past few years, so we got the Journalism 360 ambassadors onboard to answer your questions about immersive storytelling.

Data collection

Whether you're collecting data from the crowd, or crowdsourcing advice for a project, this edition features the community's top tips for success.

Covering issues
Algorithmic reporting

Reporting with algorithms and on them. Nick Diakopoulous, Jens Finnas, and Laurence Dierickx share their tips.

Covering issues
How to watchdog algorithms

What happens when algorithms go wrong? Nick Diakopoulos wants to refocus the traditional watchdog role of journalists and hold powerful algorithms to account.

Our concept

What is Conversations with Data? Our concept and how to participate.

Covering issues Ethics
When data writes…who is the author?

If a robot wrote this article, you may not know it. The movement to produce automated content has accelerated in the past few years. But editorial policies have not kept up.

Case studies Data analysis
Get curious about data: lessons on how it all works

Where does data come from? What can journalists do with it? And what happens once they're done with it? Jonathan Stray explores these questions and more.