I am a coder-journalist who has left the newsroom in order to focus on different practices of data analysis and visualisation.
Update March 2021: I am looking for freelance/contract work from January 2022 onwards!
+49 172 253 9671(Signal/Telegram)
@basilesimonon some social platforms
My journalism career started in the UK, where I worked for large broadcasters, newspapers, and agencies.
- Graphics editor, Reuters Europe, Middle East and Africa
- Senior interactive journalist, The Times and The Sunday Times
- Newsroom developer, The Times and the Sunday Times
- Coder-journalist, BBC News Labs
I also co-founded Airwars, a non-profit monitoring organisation exposing the harm done to civilians by air conflicts.
Long-term monitoring of Iran's nuclear commitments, including their often misunderstood space race efforts. Automation of the parsing of the nuclear agency's reports.
Collaboration with the Data team to bring this multi-week exclusive analysis of police data to life in just over two days.
Quick turnaround (one afternoon) of a summary ahead of an extraordinary parliamentary session, building on visualisation templates we established.
An election results analysis of socio-economic factors that may have swung the Italian vote in 2018. Modelled in R, prepared ahead of time, and published the following day, on deadline.
I turn datasets into long term stories
Since the beginning of western airstrikes against Isis, Airwars.org has held militaries across the world to account for the harm they have caused to civilians. This work was made possible through the creation of a dataset collating military reports and OSINT investigations into claims of civilian harm. This project and stories have spanned years and led to meaningful change, not only raising the bar for public accountability of their governments but holding those in power in check.
During my time at Reuters we published several pieces about the unraveling of the nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1. I created a dataset that tracked the progress of Iran’s commitments to the deal in terms of its efforts to enrich Uranium which underpinned much of the reporting.
I’ve covered the (never-ending) Brexit saga for a number of years and devised bespoke maps of the British political spectrum on the topic. This has involved manipulating the raw voting records and feeding the results to a simple machine learning clustering algorithm.
I specialise in reactive data-visualisation
For several newsrooms I have covered (more than enough) elections. They are the bread and butter of news nerds’ work and involve standing up both a back end and front end which picks up results as they come in and redraws charts and analysis live (as well as without forcing the reader to refresh).
Think of big dashboards of live data, for lack of a better image.
I am also familiar with building projects which involve readers directly engaging with content, like our survey of knowledge of modern slavery in Britain, our analysis of changing attitudes to divorce, or our 2017 Budget calculator.
I support investigative journalism work
Part of my time is spent working as a technologist and advisor to investigative journalism organisations, such as Global Witness and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Some of that work consists of code reviews, data audits, and system administration. Out of the trenches, I advise on infrastructure and systems architecture to support the work of these teams.
I read about (and would give a kidney to report on) the following topics:
- digital sleuthing and OSINT techniques,
- bias in statistical models and policy,
- defense and armament (and exports thereof),
- the West’s new fights against radical ideas,
- bread-making and bicycle-adventuring
Open source work
Fortunately I was able to open-source some of the work I have done:
- noaastorms, an R package to download, parse and clean historical storms data from the NOAA
- twitter-tools, a Python toolkit to monitor deleted tweets, automate screenshoting, and archiving
- d3-grid, a fork in d3v4 of the beloved d3-grid
- The Times’ dataviz catalogue, a public resource of data viz code and designs
I had the privilege of teaching the Advanced Data and Coding module on the MA in Interactive Journalism course at City University. We ran through an introduction to programming, statistical methods, R data analysis and modelling with ggplot.
All my teaching notes are available on Github.
I have done some studying myself:
- Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism - Univ. of Westminster (UK)
- Masters in Political Science and Sociology - High European Studies Institute (France)
- BA Private Law, minor Political Science - Univ. Lyon III (France**
Talks & awards
Society for News Design, Awards of Excellence 2019
Kantar Information is Beautiful 2019, long list for:
- The Brexit Rift Splitting the Conservative Party, which you’ve read about above
- Not Far Ahead, a funny viz of the Tour de France’s finishing times
- Reading the Brexit Tea Leaves, a project for which I did some exploratory data analysis and modelling
- “Working with data in the newsroom”, The Data Journalism Handbook (Amsterdam University Press, 2021)
- “Career paths for news nerds (or lack of them)” - International Journalism Festival 2018, Perugia
- “Airwars.org - a field report,two years on” - Hacks/Hackers London
- “Airwars - strike by strike” - Dataharvest 2016, Brussels and Hacks/Hackers Berlin
- “Hackers trying to stay relevant: linked data and structured journalism at the BBC” - csv,conf,v2 2016, Berlin
- “Passion > compensation” - Sud Web 2016, France
- “Hacking the newsroom” - International Journalism Festival 2016, Perugia
- “BBC News Labs, Linked Data, Datastringer: the Hacks and Hackers paradigm” - Computation + Journalism Symposium 2014, New York City
- “Algorithms in Journalism: danger or opportunity?” - Assises du Journalisme 2014, France
- “Greatest Impact and Distruption” and “Best Diffusion” awards for tinyfm - Al Jazeera Canvas Media in Context, Doha, Qatar
- Winner with Le 6 Mai 2012 and Pancarte.js - Popathon, Mozilla Paris, France
- Participated in Tribeca Hacks Story Matter - CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
- Failed to do something worth mentioning at many others