Jacopo Ottaviani is an Italian journalist who focuses on data-driven research and cross-border storytelling. His works have been published in international media such as The Guardian, Al Jazeera International, and Foreign Policy. You can follow him on Twitter.
What is the first thing you do when you receive a new dataset?
I open it on Google Spreadsheet and start playing with it to see what information it has and how I can use it.
What do you prefer: large datasets or small datasets with a specific focus?
The two of them, crossed and combined together.
What are three keys that must be taken into account when designing a visualization?
- Less is more
- It must be crystal clear also to people who are not familiar with the topic
- Mobile first!
What are your 'go-to' tools in this work?
What advice do you give to anyone who wants to apply for a grant like the ones you have earned?
To put thought on the application process and propose to do something unique.
How to tackle transnational research involving countries and cultures that you do not know?
First of all, you need an idea of investigation that embraces multiple countries. For example import/export involves import and export countries and migration flows involve origin and destination countries. Once you made your project prototype, submit it to your colleagues from other countries. It takes time to build a trust relationship between journalists, that’s why I think it’s a gradual process. Conferences, video calls and Slack help building these relationships between professional and passionate journalists. But when it works, collaboration and international team work can lead to great success stories.
How do you manage your times to be able to make simple reports and deep research?
I carve out some weeks (or ideally, months) every year only to work on stories, that way I can dive into what I want to explore, go on the ground, and build projects that go in depth, like Lungs of the Earth.
How do you choose your partners or fixers?
I have a personal inclination towards humble people who prove their quality and value through projects, more than conferences or public chats.