We gathered a select group of participants from the region for a data journalism bootcamp at the Best Western City Hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria with an energetic blend of teaching, discussion, individual practice and team work.

The two day bootcamp was focused on teaching participants a set of practical data journalism skills they can use in their small newsrooms. Data collecting, data filtering and sorting, and mining for stories were all practiced through teamwork and active discussions lead by Crina Boros, an investigative journalism trainer; and two leaders of the Jefferson Institute data journalism team Biljana Presnall, editor and Sanja Stamenkovic, data journalist.

President of the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute, Sergey Tsvetarsky, opened the event expressing his pleasure to address the participants and the opportunity to show some results from the multi-year project under the umbrella of Norway Grants involving several organization and contributing towards regional Balkan cooperation.

Milena Kovchazova, Chief Expert at the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works of Bulgaria, presented the Bulgarian Border Dialogues project and the partners who made this project such a success.

The bootcamp started with discussion on why should journalists care about data journalism, highlighting the benefits of data visualization and data driven stories.

The keynote speaker Anuška Delić - a journalist with Slovenia’s main daily newspaper Delo, presented DeloData - a Slovenian pioneer project in data journalism, which she was leading. Their experience was an excellent introduction to show fellow journalists how to start the data journalism journey.

Ultimately, the www.patchworkBalkan.org platform was presented. This data portal pools local level public data from across the Balkan region to generate embeddable data visualizations and is equipped with ready-made tools for registered users to work with existing and upload new data sets, to create visual data displays, and to match them with reporting from the Balkan communities.

The representative of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Atle Staalsen and Liza Vassilieva, presented www.patchworkBarents.org, a sister-project of Patchwork Balkan, showing how patchwork data driven journalism can contribute to better understanding of a region, but also to cutting edge journalism and storytelling.
Best Western PLUS City Hotel, Sofia
June 12, 2015