007 meets ‘data-driven’ journalism

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

James Bond, meet “data-driven” journalism.

That term is in vogue these days. It describes journalism that’s more based on data, rather than interviews. Interviews may supplement what the data shows, but the idea is to base stories by analyzing and sifting through data, according to a Wikipedia definition. With data-driven journalism, there’s more of an emphasis on charts to illustrate what the data shows.

On Dec. 7, THE WASHINGTON POST’S WONGBLOG did such a piece on SPECTRE, the new 007 film that begins principal photography on Monday, Dec. 8.

Here’s an excerpt:

There is another James Bond movie in the works, the 24th in the series of gun-slingin’, sex-havin’, Russia-or-whoever-it-is-nowadays-hatin’ flicks to appear on-screen since Sean Connery kicked the whole thing off. But next year’s film, Spectre, features something rarely seen in the Bond world: an age-appropriate co-star.

The so-called “Bond girl,” in this film, is Monica Bellucci, age 50. For a franchise that has been built on the idea that Britain’s most famous spy has no qualms about romantic entanglements with a teenager (Aliza Gur was a teenager while filming “From Russia With Love”), it’s a step forward.

The story, by writer Philip Bump, is accompanied by A CHART showing the different the different Bond actors and how their age varied with their women co-stars.

The story makes it sound as if Bellucci has the primary female part opposite Daniel Craig, 46. Lea Seydoux, 29, also is in the movie and may also be a Bond woman. It’s possible that Craig/Bond might be involved with both. But, of course, nobody really knows outside of the filmmakers. That’s a twist for this example of data-driven journalism.

Bump, in his story, wrote that “some minor love interests (there are so many) may drag the average down. But for now, we’re content with James Bond appearing with the oldest co-star since Maud Adams’ Octopussy.”

The Post’s story isn’t entirely data driven. There’s some commentary. “And let’s just let out a collective ‘ugh’ to that phrase, ‘Bond girl,'” Bump writes at one point.

Nor is this 007’s first encounter with data-driven journalism. On Aug. 13, THE UPSHOT BLOG OF THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a piece how the 007 continuation novels outnumber the Ian Fleming originals. It’s something fans have been aware of for some time but may be new to the general public. The Upshot included the inevitable chart.

NYT’s Upshot blog breaks down 007 by the numbers

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The New York Times, IN AN ENTRY IN ITS UPSHOT BLOG, performs a bit of numerical analysis on James Bond.

The Upshot used this week’s 50th anniversary of the death of 007 creator Ian Fleming to examine Bond. The Upshot stresses data-based reporting. The newspaper started the blog after Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN purchased the FiveThirtyEight blog, which used to appear on the NYT’s website, from journalist-statistician Nate Silver, who now works for ESPN and its sister company ABC News. Silver gained fame for using data to project the winners of political races.

The Upshot describes itself as providing “news, analysis and graphics about politics, policy and everyday life.” (For more information, you can CLICK HERE.)

The Bond post by Alan Flippen includes graphics about which authors wrote how many 007 novels (Fleming being in a tie with John Gardner at 14 each) and how many 007 movie titles are derived from Fleming. To read the entire post, CLICK HERE.

In addition, you can read the newspaper’s 1964 obituary on Fleming BY CLICKING HERE. If you want to see the obituary in its original form, you can find information on purchasing a copy, or getting a Times digital subscription BY CLICKING HERE.