At the J-Lab: Patchwork Nation

Dante Chinni is the director of Patchwork Nation, a Knight Foundation-funded data-driven journalism project.

This project mashes up data in ways we hadn’t thought of. The project defined counties based on their demographics and slotted them into 12 categories: “Monied ‘Burbs,” “Immigration Nation,” “Evangelical Epicenters” and so forth. (Surprised that there hasn’t been an uproar about the colloquial names of these categories..) Anyway, you can now, for example, compare the number of votes Barack Obama received, county-by-county, with the locations of the nation’s Whole Foods outlets. (Lollerskates.)

Chinni cautions that the data isn’t enough on its own: “The data is really a jumping-off point for doing the reporting.”

Now, is this a viable model? For Chinni it seems to be. But he’s the project’s sole employee, as far as we can tell, and while lean-and-mean is great, it does mean that there will be way fewer reporting jobs in the future.