Newsquest has launched a data investigations unit after three of its journalists were trained by the BBC as part of the corporation’s partnership with local news publishers.
The new editorial team, which includes two full-time reporters and one part-time reporter, aims to offer editors a potential splash each week, according to the regional publisher.
The unit officially launched last month with a training day in London, led by editorial director Toby Granville and attended by ten reporters from across Newsquest’s publications.
The ten will represent their regions by giving over one day a week to work on group-wide data investigations under the Newsquest Data Investigations Unit.
Joanna Morris (pictured, centre), formerly of the Northern Echo, and Vicky Gayle (pictured, left), formerly of the Essex Daily Gazette, will work in the unit alongside Bev Holder (pictured, right), who will split her time between the unit and her role as chief reporter for the Stourbridge News.
All three went on 12-week secondments with the BBC’s Shared Data Unit as part of the Local News Partnership Scheme. The same scheme, which Newsquest is signed up to, is behind the 150 local democracy reporters.
Granville said: “I’m delighted to finally get this Data Unit of the ground – and very lucky to have the exceptional talent of Vicky, Joanna and Bev making up the team so far.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them and helping others produce some ground-breaking investigative journalism and really shake things up.”
Morris said her BBC secondment “really underlined the importance of reporters being able to scrutinise and understand the relevance of the data that is held and published by public authorities on an almost daily basis”.
She added: “It’s a skill I believe is vital in continuing to hold authorities to account and I’m hoping that the launch of Newsquest’s unit eventually mean we’ll have people in all of our newsrooms who will have the skills and time to analyse such data and explore how it’s relevant to our readers and their communities.”
Holder added: “This is an incredible opportunity for myself and my reporting colleagues across the company to develop our skills and have chance to work on some great investigative projects of public interest.”