WNYC is beefing up its data journalism

WNYC’s data team has tracked a lot over the years: cicadas, flood zones, and even wireless Internet access on the subway.

Now the station’s newest project, a community data experiment called “Clock Your Sleep,” aims to help New Yorkers monitor their sleeping habits. Recently launched, the sleep study is part of WNYC’s ongoing data journalism expansion. Spurred on by the success of projects like the cicada tracker, which got listeners up and down the Eastern Seaboard to keep an eye on last summer’s once-in-17-year swarm of insects, the station is increasing its data visualization and crowdsourcing efforts.

Data journalism is in the spotlight these days, thanks to sites like Ezra Klein’s Vox (which launched on Sunday) and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, and WNYC has responded by beefing up its data team.

Data reporting is now a key part of WNYC’s digital strategy because it works, Jim Schachter, WNYC’s vice president of news, said. The station’s seven-person data team is recruiting -- they’re currently looking for a backend developer -- and planning to develop “Clock Your Sleep” as a “project in a box,” complete with digital tools and a programming guide to help other media outlets recreate the project in their communities.

WNYC will also soon revamp its School Book site -- which helps parents assess the state of New York City schools -- by making it possible for users to search for schools within a given distance of their homes. “In the same way that hurricane maps are an important public service, this is sort of an ongoing, lasting public service that the data news [team] operates,” Schachter said.

WNYC is beefing up its data journalism