Times journalist joins investigations bureau to head up project finding local stories in big data

Megan Lucero

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has appointed Times and Sunday Times journalist Megan Lucero to run its newest project that looks to find local stories in big data-sets.

Lucero is currently data journalism editor at the Rupert Murdoch-owned titles and will join the Bureau to head up the Local Data Lab ahead of its planned launch in early 2017.

Under Lucero, the Bureau said it wants to build a team of journalists and specialists “capable of building, mining, analysing and visualising big data”. Stories produced by the lab will be published in partnership with local and regional newspapers.

Rachel Oldroyd, managing editor of the Bureau, said: “We want to build the best data journalism team in the UK delivering stories to a crucial but under-resourced sector of the media.

“In Megan we have hired fantastic experience, and the scale of her ambition for the project also guarantees its success.”

The project received €662,000 earlier this year from the first round of funding offered by Google’s Digital News Initiative – enough funding to support the data team for more than two years.

Over the coming months the Bureau has said it will recruit up to three more members of the data team.

A spokesperson said: “There is an increasing amount of data being released by regional authorities, but understanding and analysing it requires time and specialist skills which are usually not available on local papers.”

Lucero’s data mining team at the Times titles helped bring the athletics blood doping scandal to light, expose the six-figure pay deals given to charity executives and the gender gap in income equality in the UK.

Said Lucero: “Data Lab is the answer journalism needs right now – for transparency, for data journalism, for public interest reporting.”

Over the past six months the Bureau has hired five other new journalists and editors including BBC producer Meirion Jones, senior editor at Vice News Europe Miriam Wells, MailOnline health correspondent Madlen Davies, Jessica Purkiss and a Kabul-based drone specialist.

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