Investigative Data Journalist
- Position Type
- Full Time
Investigative Data Journalist
at The Markup (View all jobs)
New York, NY
Welcome. We are The Markup (https://themarkup.org/) -- a brand new nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism organization in New York City. We're hiring!
Our mission is to investigate and illuminate the societal effects of new technologies. With little accountability or oversight, technology is affecting who we vote for, how we raise our kids, who is able to get housing, jobs, healthcare and a comfortable life. We will investigate these impacts, with the goal of holding the powerful to account, raising the cost of bad behavior, and spurring reforms. We begin publishing in 2019.
The Markup is seeking Investigative Data Journalists to collect and analyze data showing the impacts of technology on society, have strong news judgement and can see stories in a dataset. This position reports to the Managing Editor.
The Markup is committed to building a team that includes a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and an organizational culture that is reader-centered, inventive, rigorous, and courageous. A collaborative team-based approach is core for us: we won't tolerate jerks. We aim to be a place where a diverse mix of dedicated people will want to come, to stay, and do their best work. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, country of origin, citizenship, ancestry, physical or mental disability, or veteran status.
About the position
Investigations are the heart of what we do. Our approach to investigative journalism is guided by the scientific method. We develop hypotheses and assemble data — through crowdsourcing, FOIA requests, and automated data collection — to test our theories.
Investigative journalism is a team sport. The Markup’s Investigative Data Journalists and Investigative Reporters work closely together on stories, and they work with Graphics Editors to help visually explain their findings.
The Markup’s investigative data journalists are skilled at working with large and messy datasets, scraping websites, running statistics, finding outside experts and sources, and most importantly knowing what is a story and isn’t a story. They are proud of the clean code they write, the statistical tests they run, and can clearly communicate their findings. In short, they produce the facts we rely on for our investigations.
On large investigations you will be responsible for writing methodologies that explain your work, and helping to write the main feature. You care about the quality of your work, so your code is clean, your analysis repeatable, and your prose is clear.
You are crafty. You have a bunch of story ideas, and are on the lookout for more. You know where to gather data, how to collect it, and importantly what to collect.
You are accurate. You won’t begin to analyze a dataset until you are certain it is free of errors.
You are an explorer. You visualize the data first before running statistical tests, so you can see where a story might be.
You are collaborative. You work well on teams, and know that holding the powerful to account is what matters.
You know what you don’t know. You don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to ask questions, find outside statistical help for analysis, can get academics and researchers to review your findings before publication and generally enjoy learning new things.
You value clarity. You know a simple analysis with clear findings is better than a complicated one done with fancy and sophisticated techniques.
You are open and transparent. The Markup shares the data and code behind our investigations, so the Investigative Data Journalist writes code with a reader in mind. And you can write prose precise enough for a technical reader, but approachable for a general audience.
You are experienced. You’ve worked on data driven stories and know what it takes to develop and execute a data driven story. .
You will also be the custodian of your own digital security. We will provide the tools, but you will need to use two-factor authentication, password managers, encryption and other tools and tactics to protect our work and our sources.
You should be comfortable in at least a couple of programming languages, and know which one to use for each task. At The Markup, we use Node.js for scraping, python or ruby for data cleaning and parsing, PostgreSQL and ElasticSearch databases for storage, and R for analysis. We’ve also used a bit of Rust, so you can use newer or esoteric programming languages if they fit the task. Just know that if you do, you’ll be the one responsible for maintaining it. You don’t need to know all of these languages and tools, but having knowledge of a few of them is a definite plus.
You should be comfortable on the command line: sometimes a story is just a grep away. The same goes for spreadsheet software like Excel: sometimes you’ll find a story in a single cell.
You don’t need to be a stats expert, but you should be stats curious. You should be conversant in basic statistics and analysis, and have a commitment to learning on the job.
We’re looking for someone who has a strong sense of the limits of his/her own knowledge, so that when you encounter a new problem you ask first: whether that is meeting with an academic, asking questions internally, doing open source research, reading complicated academic papers, filing a FOIA request, or picking up the phone to call a source.
There isn’t a template for this job, you might come from a graphics desk, a data desk or have worked outside of journalism. The only thing we ask for is that you have a bachelor’s degree and a few years of relevant experience.
We are building an organizational culture that is reader-centered, inventive, rigorous, and courageous. A collaborative team-centered approach is a core value for our team.
We pay people fair and reasonable salaries, in accordance with their skills and abilities and experience. We'll also provide a generous benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, life, disability, pet insurance and retirement plan contributions.
The salary for this position begins at $95,000, and will be established based on the candidate's experience, education and skills.
How to apply
We have engaged DRi Consulting to assist us with this search. To apply, please use the form below to submit a cover letter, resume, 3-5 clips of your previous work, and 3-5 story ideas for investigations you might want to pursue if you joined us. Applications that don't include a cover letter will not be considered. Please do not contact the hiring manager directly. Please do not send a CV or application package to staff at their individual email addresses. If you do, it will probably just get lost.
This position will work out of our New York City office. If you don't currently live in New York but are willing to relocate for this position, please make that clear in your cover letter. We will pay relocation expenses for successful candidates.
At this time, we can't consider applications from people who don't already have the legal right to work in the United States. In order to work for The Markup, you'll be required to provide documentation establishing that you're eligible for U.S. employment.