Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Meet The Guardian’s Data Editor, Alberto Nardelli

by Matt Rosenberg October 28th, 2014

When Alberto Nardelli started the Twitter feed Tweetminister in 2008, there were a small handful of British Members of Parliament tweeting. As that number began to grow, leading into the 2010 U.K. general elections, Nardelli introduced Twitter Q&As and mapped and analyzed political trends using tweets as source data.

Now there are more than 400 MPs using Twitter, and Tweetminister – which lets users track down their MP’s tweets – has more than 63,000 followers. Before stepping away, Nardelli turned the pursuit into a media consulting company with a team of four others. In September he was hired as editor of The Guardian’s Data Blog.
The two had some history – in 2011 he sold to Guardian News and Media an online platform he started to serve young social media entrepreneurs, UnLtdWorld.

The bar for Nardelli has been set high by the founding editor of The Guardian’s Data Blog, Simon Rogers. Author of the book “Facts are Sacred,” Rogers since last year has been Data Editor for Twitter, based out the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Growing prominence of data analysis, and Twitter

As Nardelli dives into work at The Guardian, he says he is  “not involved with Tweetminster any more. No shares, no role, no involvement at all.” Still, the progress of Tweetminister from a somewhat esoteric innovation to much more, is revealing. In an interview at The Guardian’s London Offices, Nardelli told The Open Standard that the commercial potential of Tweetminister became evident over the last several years as data analysis has gained traction and as Twitter itself became more established as a source of data and news leads.

“We should get to the point where we don’t even talk about data journalism”

Tweetminister the company provides a savvy blend of free and paid products help make sense of the ceaseless swirl of content on social media.

There’s “a data powered autonomous magazine,” also called Tweetminister, where articles and layout are determined by the most relevant news stories….(ones)…most shared by politicians, media and experts.” The stories are ranked and then fed into news channels. Think of it as what marketing pros call a “loss leader,” a free product that builds interest in paid services.

Global election tweets, up to the minute, by country

Also free from the Tweetminister combine is the Twittter feed Electionista, this one with some 32,000 followers. It tracks politics and elections globally. A free global elections calendar provided by Electionista lets users track up-to-the-minute election-related tweets in their countries of choice.

Layered on top of the two public service Tweet streams and the autonomous news magazine, are a series of paid services. These include Electionista Pro, which provides election-related intel; plus infographics, customized data services and strategic communications consulting for clients including “global news organisations, governments and embassies, financial institutions, companies and NGOs.”

Nardelli, 35, grew up in Italy, the U.K. and Singapore, and says his passion – along with “food, football, fashion and film,” is “making the world more open and better connected.” About the spread of data journalism – something glimpsed in the rise of prominent sites such as FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times’ Upshot and The Guardian’s own Data Blog, Nardelli says, “We should get to the point where we don’t even talk about data journalism,” and instead data is simply understood to be integral to good reporting and storytelling, “providing insight to a broad audience.”

A glimpse of what he’s talking about is evident at the Guardian’s Data Blog, where recent coverage included an explainer on Britain’s amended and large bill for dues to the European Union; a look at British sentiment on staying in the E.U., studded with polling charts and social media screen captures; a rich pointer post to the new OpenAustralia site They Vote For You which demystifies what voting records in the Australian parliament actually mean; and a chart-enriched repurposing of Credit Suisse data on where the world’s millionaires live now, and are expected to live in the future.

A favorite of Nardelli’s is the data blog’s late September look at minimum wages in E.U. countries using The Economist’s “Big Mac Index.”

This week, Nardelli will be in New York for The Guardian to soak up zeitgeist and doubtless, data, on the U.S. midterm elections. Stay tuned.

This article originally written by Matt Rosenberg was first published in The Open Standard on 10/28/14 under a Creative Commons license allowing full free re-use for non-commercial purposes.

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